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Hand-Rearing Wild Caribou Calves for Studies of Nutritional Ecology

Authors

  • Katherine L. Parker,

    Corresponding author
    • Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada
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  • Perry S. Barboza

    1. Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska
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  • Contract grant sponsor: National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI); contract grant sponsor: University of Alaska Fairbanks; contract grant sponsor: University of Northern British Columbia.

Correspondence to: Katherine L. Parker, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia V2N 4Z9, Canada. E-mail: parker@unbc.ca

Abstract

Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) are considered difficult to hand-rear in captivity because they are sensitive to the composition and volume of formulated milks. We used a strict feeding schedule and a commercial milk formula designed specifically for caribou to bottle-feed neonates captured from five wild caribou herds in Alaska. Under a feeding protocol adjusted for age and mass, the growth rates and body mass of 26 hand-reared caribou calves to weaning were similar to those of three maternally nursed caribou. This protocol allows caretakers to hand-rear caribou that are as representative as possible of maternally raised neonates. Zoo Biol. 32:163–171, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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