2.5 Nutrition

Feeding and nutrition are fundamental to animal health and welfare and constitute one of the obligations of keeping animals in captivity. Keepers need to have underpinning knowledge of the principles of fed utilisation and the impact of diet on animal condition so that diets can be modified appropriately. A knowledge of the nutrition and feeding sections of relevant husbandry guidelines for appropriate taxa is recommended as these are an integral part of EAZA standards.

  • Digestion of Food: zookeepers can demonstrate knowledge of food acquisition and its breakdown in the alimentary tract.
  • Ration Design and Formulation: zookeepers can describe how a balanced diet is produced
  • Diet Supplementation: zookeepers can discuss situations where dietary supplementation is required and what is appropriate.
  • Animal Condition Scoring: zookeepers can describe how body condition scoring can assist with successful zoo animal management.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
2.5.1 Digestion of Food Describe how species in their care physically (e.g. chewing) and chemically (e.g. digestive enzymes) break down food within the digestive system Describe how species in their care achieve digestion of feed and how this can be disrupted or modified by internal or external factors Discuss how a wide range of different taxa process ingested food and how dietary change affects faecal consistency
2.5.2 Ration Design and Formulation Identify the essential components of a diet relevant to a species under their care and how the diet is presented Discuss how diets can be modified across different life stages to ensure nutrient requirements continue to be met Assist nutritionists in re-formulating diets, substituting components when required and interpret diet sheets according to developments in knowledge
2.5.3 Diet Supplementation Identify situations where short or long term dietary supplementation is required Identify which supplements are suitable for (and the appropriate rate for) inclusion to the diet of animals in their care Assist nutritionists in providing guidance to other team members on effective supplementation for a range of species and plan their seasonal use
2.5.4 Animal Condition Scoring Use body condition scoring (BCS) sheets to assess a range of animals in their care in a consistent manner Assist other team members in the use of body condition scoring systems for species in their care Discuss suitable modifications to existing BCS systems or design novel body condition score recording systems across a range of species
Modify diets to change BCS as recommended


  • Husbandry Guidelines and care manuals
  • A. Fidgett et al. (eds.), Zoo Animal Nutrition, Volumes 1 – 4
  • L. Case, L. Daristotle, M. Hayek and M. Foess Raasch, Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals, 2010

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Last updated: 14/12/2017