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Studies on health of zoo animals?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 03, 2010 at 2:01 PM

Desmond Morris has an old, but still good book called The Human Zoo, and more recently the great Erwan Le Corre (of MovNat) talks about Zoo-humans. Of course what they both talk about is the main premisse of the paleo diet (and lifestyle): the mismatch between our lives and the kind of life we were made for.

Mark Sisson recently blogged about a really interesting study about moose and osteoarthritis. You can find the original paper here. Now this particular study was not about captive animals and their change in health, but about changes in health due to environmental/nutritional changes in a 'natural' setting.

We could probably learn a lot from changes in health from our fellow mammals, the ones that are in captivity.

Does anyone know any particular studies or papers? And I'm not only talking about diet, also other lifestyle changes: physical activity, social context, natural environment, ...

Thanks!

Medium avatar

(19479)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:54 PM

I think you're right Sara. You might even say, It's so easy, even a ...must not...give in...to cliches!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:24 PM

eat your greens! rewild or die! rewild.info

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:22 PM

diet including endive, romaine lettuce, green beas, alfala hay, dandelion greens, flax seeds and multivitamins. They eat about 10 pounds of this green leafy salad every day. On their old sugarstarchy diet they were overweight and less mobile. They were also vomiting their own food,and re-consuming it and plucking their own hair,and eating that too. The new low-sugar diet eliminated those unusual behaviors.The(...)gorillas will be monitored carefully and if they remain healthy, the Gorilla Species Survival Plan may recommend all gorillas in North America go on a high fiber, foraging diet like..

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 09:11 PM

the horrible thing on this. It looks like photoshop. probably its just a good camera the rest things are real. this animal is a half elephant. strange world.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 08, 2010
at 06:50 AM

sorry, but I'm not that kind of geek that knows star trek characters ;-) my eyebrows are intact though...

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 07, 2010
at 05:25 PM

Great!! THANK YOU! :) Did you really tell people that...?? u totally cr*ck me UP. (actually a big tell tale sign of hypothyroidism is loss of eyebrows... esp the outer 1/3 or more.. was there an advanced character in Star Trek that had no eye brows?)

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 07, 2010
at 03:57 PM

Thanks again Grace! I took the liberty to add the pictures to the post. (btw I'm quite bold myself. before knowing evolutionary health (and the article from Cordain), I used to tell people that being hairless is a sign of higher human evolution...)

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 07, 2010
at 02:59 PM

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1225042/Germanys-bald-bears-Fur-disease-afflicts-Dolores-baffles-vets.html I dunno how to post a picture -- there are 2 on the link.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 04, 2010
at 07:29 AM

Grace, thank you! This is exactly the kind of studies I was asking about. Thanks again.

1c4ada15ca0635582c77dbd9b1317dbf

(2614)

on September 03, 2010
at 02:24 PM

Great question - Naked Ape by Morris is also a great read and should be interesting to people here I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Ape

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6 Answers

3
3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 04, 2010
at 03:11 AM

I'm not sure if this is along the lines of satisfying your curiosity Pieter D?

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/123/5/e948

Human-animals are akin to apex carnivorous predators in many respects...

Very sad until the lions were fed cod liver oil (taurine, liver, vit A, vit D, EPA DHA omega-3, B-vits, etc) and marrow, the standard diet killed 20 successive liters of lion cubs. Sir Mellanby saved them. The standard wild animal zoo far was meat and bread (actually the actually didn't state it but in Philly and other zoos at the time, bread was included in the chow).

Extinction?

Pretty close those zoo keepers achieved! Good thing these cubs were not the last endangered species... (like Neanderthals ah aahhh)

Anyway for human 'zoo' animals I go to the mall and am greatly saddened -- EVERYONE is pre-diabetic or full-on and they don't even know it. Just observing waistlines in even skinny girls who have a 'pooch' or belly and skinny arms/legs... S.A.D...

-G

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 04, 2010
at 07:29 AM

Grace, thank you! This is exactly the kind of studies I was asking about. Thanks again.

2
7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:25 PM

Unfortunately I don't know of any studies, but I watched a neat show on television years ago about innovations in zoos, and there was one (I think in Kentucky) where they made some changes so that the animals had more natural interactions with other species. For example, they took down the fences and used moats and other natural-looking barriers, so animals from one exhibit could see animals from others. They also cycled the animals through the habitats, allowing predators and prey to smell the presence of each other.

In a number of zoos I've seen special toys/treats being given to the animals. The polar bears got a bunch of fish and tasty things frozen into a block of ice which took them a while to eat and gave them something to play with. Sea lions got some felt shaped like a net of kelp, in which treats and toys were hidden. This is similar to what I did for my dog when I first got him: give him lots of toys that took a while to work through. But it was no match to actually species-appropriate activities like sheep herding, walking, and just generally spending time outside in the sun sniffing things. Maybe it's that simple for humans, too: lots of walks, time spent outside in the sun, and camping?

Medium avatar

(19479)

on December 22, 2011
at 01:54 PM

I think you're right Sara. You might even say, It's so easy, even a ...must not...give in...to cliches!

2
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on February 23, 2011
at 08:26 PM

I found this from John Durant's Hunter-Gatherer.com:

Captive Gorillas Succumbing to Human Disease

Life for humans is much easier than for animals in the wild. On a day-to-day basis, we generally do not have to worry about being eaten or starving to death. Depending on the individual's job, some can get by just fine by sitting around all day. However, this lifestyle brings forth its own set of health issues such as diabetes and heart disease, illnesses rarely found in the wild. These "human" diseases have spread to gorillas that are raised in captivity.

The only species of gorilla kept at North American zoos is the Western Lowland Gorilla. The number one killer of males in captivity is heart disease, much like humans. After a 21 year old gorilla named Brooks died of heart failure at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in 2005, a group of researchers decided to examine how the gorilla???s lifestyle affect their health. The team was led by Elena Hoellein Less, a PhD candidate in biology at Case Western Reserve University.

The researchers believe that heart disease can be stopped by switching captive gorillas back to their natural diets in the wild. For decades, zoos have fed gorillas bucket loads of high vitamin, high sugar, and high starch foods to make sure their got all their nutrients. At the Cleveland zoo, they have started feeding food such as romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, endives, alfalfa, green beans, flax seeds, and even tree branches which they strip of bark and leaves. To top it off, they give the gorillas three Centrum Silver multivitamins inside half a banana.

Going back to this natural diet has changed gorilla behavior. Before, gorillas only ate during a quarter of their day because the food was so packed with nutrients. Now at Cleveland, they spend 50-60 percent of their day eating which is the same amount as in the wild. With all this extra eating, the gorillas have doubled their caloric intake, yet at the same time have dropped 65 pounds each. This brings their weight more in line with their wild relatives.

"We're beginning to understand we may have a lot of overweight gorillas," said Kristen Lukas, an adjunct assistant professor of biology at Case Western Reserve and chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan??. "And, we're just recognizing that surviving on a diet and being healthy on a diet are different. We've raised our standards and are asking, are they in the best condition to not only survive but to thrive?"

Less and her crew are continuing their studies of captive gorillas by measuring the fat on their backs to create a gorilla body mass index. This can be used to gauge healthy weight for gorillas much as it is used for humans. The next step, says Less, is to exercise gorillas at the zoo to get their muscles to a similar level as their wild relatives.

Watch video from Case Western Reserve University: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9A74LvPxU8

1
3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 07, 2010
at 02:58 PM

studies-on-health-of-zoo-animals?

Pieter D,

This is from Dexter. Alopecia is not an uncommon condition among zoo animals apparently. Grains/gluten? Phytate? I believe these are also possible dietary culprits... Recently we obtained a guinea pig whose native diet is all high vitamin C vegetables and fruit (and possibly an occasional grub). There is no guinea chow in the pet stores that does not contain grains and/or gluten, which is not part of their native diet. The same was true for our 3 cats when we had them. Currently there is a lot more offered in terms of carnivore-style cat chow and many high end pet stores offer frozen raw meat.

Personally I think bald is SEXY and for some odd reason hairless humans have a special place in my heart... High Testestorone and DHT are not necessarily unhealthy are bad, and I came across one medical article regarding the protective effects against prostate cancer.

Hope you find interesting as well!

G

studies-on-health-of-zoo-animals?

This should be normal: studies-on-health-of-zoo-animals?

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 07, 2010
at 05:25 PM

Great!! THANK YOU! :) Did you really tell people that...?? u totally cr*ck me UP. (actually a big tell tale sign of hypothyroidism is loss of eyebrows... esp the outer 1/3 or more.. was there an advanced character in Star Trek that had no eye brows?)

3864f9a2af09b1b447c7963058650a34

(3703)

on September 07, 2010
at 02:59 PM

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1225042/Germanys-bald-bears-Fur-disease-afflicts-Dolores-baffles-vets.html I dunno how to post a picture -- there are 2 on the link.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 08, 2010
at 06:50 AM

sorry, but I'm not that kind of geek that knows star trek characters ;-) my eyebrows are intact though...

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 07, 2010
at 03:57 PM

Thanks again Grace! I took the liberty to add the pictures to the post. (btw I'm quite bold myself. before knowing evolutionary health (and the article from Cordain), I used to tell people that being hairless is a sign of higher human evolution...)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 09:11 PM

the horrible thing on this. It looks like photoshop. probably its just a good camera the rest things are real. this animal is a half elephant. strange world.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 09:11 PM

"...Jensen has published a searing exposé about zoos and captive animals with Karen Tweedy-Holmes called Thought to Exist in the Wild; Resistance to Empire, a collection of incendiary interviews with other activists; and What We Leave Behind, co-authored with Aric McBay – a heartbreaking polemic on the concepts of waste, life, and death..."

http://guerrillanews.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/%E2%80%9Cyou%E2%80%99re-not-crazy-and-it%E2%80%99s-not-your-fault%E2%80%9D/


edit. this article is helerious... http://www.care2.com/greenliving/gorillas-lose-weight-on-greens-diet.html

this is on gorillaz and how they imprve on a less sugary diet. they usally in cages got sweet stuff and now they get more greens dandelion greens flax alfalfa,....

they vomit theyre food and eat it again. they plugged out their hair and also eat it.

whats going on?!!!! Rewild !!!!stop dmoestication

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:22 PM

diet including endive, romaine lettuce, green beas, alfala hay, dandelion greens, flax seeds and multivitamins. They eat about 10 pounds of this green leafy salad every day. On their old sugarstarchy diet they were overweight and less mobile. They were also vomiting their own food,and re-consuming it and plucking their own hair,and eating that too. The new low-sugar diet eliminated those unusual behaviors.The(...)gorillas will be monitored carefully and if they remain healthy, the Gorilla Species Survival Plan may recommend all gorillas in North America go on a high fiber, foraging diet like..

0
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on September 08, 2010
at 05:20 PM

I know I asked for scientific papers in my question, but one image says as much as a thousand words?

studies-on-health-of-zoo-animals?

a little explanation here

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2011
at 11:24 PM

eat your greens! rewild or die! rewild.info

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