Improving Carnivore Diets One Part at a Time – A Discussion about Carcass Feeding
Presenter: Mike Maslanka, Head, Department of Nutrition Science, Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
We learn new things about our animals, their care and management, and ourselves daily. It is easy to think back to 5 or 10 years ago and recognize how far we’ve come. It is equally as easy to leave some of the ideas (good AND bad) in the past, for that is sometimes where they belong. However, it is equally important to review some of those “old” ideas with the lens of increased knowledge and perspective gained over time (lest we let a good idea go prematurely). One of our zoo colleagues often used the phrase, “if you want a new idea, read an old book.” Carcass feeding in zoos very much fits into this category. From the beginning of time, it was THE way carnivores were fed. Over time, however, challenges arose in how we manage carnivores and we got away from using carcass as much. Now, as we squarely focus on animal welfare, nutritional physiology, natural history, gut microbiome management, and fiscal responsibility, it may be that carcass feeding is coming back “into style.” We’ll discuss some of the challenges with the practice, along with the potential benefits of including or increasing it as part of your feeding program.