Meet the Experts: Mazuri Nutritionists Improve Animal Welfare
Species360 extends a special thanks to Mazuri® Exotic Animal Nutrition for seven consecutive years of sponsorship of our member community, including helping resource-constrained wildlife institutions such as Paramaribo Zoo in Suriname to participate in Species360 and to use ZIMS for animal records management. When you evaluate providers for your zoo and aquarium needs, please consider talking with the team of experts at Mazuri!
As zoos and aquariums focus on ensuring optimal care and welfare of wildlife – from improving environments to enriching activities – nutrition remains a foundational component of animal health and well-being. What animals consume has a cascading impact on everything from behavior to reproductive health and mental well-being.
At the Association of Zoos and Aquariums annual conference held in New Orleans earlier this year, Species360 talked with Dr. Troy Tollefson, Nutritionist, Mazuri Exotic Animal Nutrition, about recent changes in wildlife care and nutrition – and what it takes to bring new discoveries to market.
“Nutrition has been at the forefront of changes in animal welfare,” said Tollefson. “At Mazuri, we have continued to improve everything from the source to the way that foods are processed to retain quality and benefit.”
Adapting the source, technology and approach to processing foods is the focus of a team of wildlife nutritionists, quality, and process researchers and experts. The company has patented an extrusion technology that employs extreme high pressure to retain nutrients while forming the shape, length, and texture that each species prefers.
That includes eliminating unnecessary starches that would not normally be in the animal’s diet. For example, Mazuri provides low-starch foods and supplements that address the unique needs of herbivores, primates, aquatic mammals, and other groups. These products are instrumental in boosting animals’ weight and body condition, while providing key vitamins and minerals the species requires.
“Our nutritionists and quality teams create foods in a way that is more appealing to the animal, and that the keepers may feed in ways to encourage natural feeding behavior with some animals. That helps the keeper to be more successful in achieving what they want for the animal, and helps the animal to thrive,” said Tollefson.
Often, dietary and format changes not only improve the animal’s physical health but also enhance their behavioral and mental well-being. By providing the zoo and aquarium community with a wide variety forms for different species, such as food that floats on water for fish, Mazuri helps to equip animal care teams to address behavioral and mental welfare indicators. For example, placing tiny pieces of feed in a bale of hay encourages monkeys to spend the day foraging for it as they would in the wild. These behaviors are an essential element to the psychological well-being for many birds and other species as well.
This leadership in nutrition and feeding has earned Mazuri recognition by the zoo and aquarium community for being at the forefront of welfare improvements, from exotic birds and reptiles to mammals and fish. Achieving the right balance of food, in the right form, means healthier animals that may live longer and require less veterinary intervention.
For more information on becoming a Species360 community sponsor, please email Peter.Donlon@Species360.org