CZAAWE Resource Article

Variations in Eastern bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci) feeding practices in UK zoological collections
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract The feeding strategy of the Eastern bongo in the wild is unusual, poorly understood, and few captive feeding recommendations are currently available to zoos. To assess the current state of nutritional husbandry of this rare antelope, eight UK zoos were surveyed. A nutritional husbandry questionnaire was completed and bongos at each zoo were visually assessed by body condition scoring (BCS). Representative samples of the forage and browse consumed by bongos at each zoo were analyzed for nutrient composition using standard agricultural techniques. Significant differences in bongo body condition were found, indicating that zoo husbandry practices are sufficiently varied to have identifiable impacts on the physical condition of the animals. The results highlight a disparity in feeding regimes and diet quality, with significant differences found in forage and browse nutrient compositions and in vitro digestibility. Most forage samples were of a low nutritional quality. Browse provision was found to be largely opportunistic and limited in most zoos. The provision of energy-rich produce was also found to be unnecessary in maintaining a bongo herd at an ideal mean BCS. This survey provides baseline data which may be useful in establishing “good practice” standards for Eastern bongo captive nutrition and highlights several areas requiring further research. Zoo Biol 30:149–164, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.