In response to new recommendations for feeding giraffe in zoos, giraffe (n = 6) were transitioned from a typical hoofstock diet to diets containing reduced starch, protein, Ca and P and added n3 fatty acids. This diet was fed as a 50:50 mix with alfalfa and grass hay. Over the next 4 years, serum Ca, P, and fatty acids were measured every 6 months (summer and winter). Serum Ca was not affected by season (P = 0.67) or by diet (P = 0.12). Serum P was not affected season (P = 0.14), but was reduced by diet (P<0.01), and serum Ca:P was also increased by diet (P<0.01). The ratio of serum Ca:P tended to be affected by season (P = 0.07), in which animals tended to have greater Ca:P during the summer vs. the winter. The diet transition resulted in reduced serum saturated fatty acids (including lauric, myristic, palmitic, arachidic, and behenic acids), and increases in n6 fatty acids (including linolenic and arachidonic acids) and n3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid) (P<0.05 for each). Overall, this diet transition resulted in blood nutrient profiles that more closely match that of values found in free-ranging giraffe. Zoo Biol 30:523–531, 2011. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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