Taught by animals: how understanding diet selection leads to better zoo diets
B. D. MOORE, K. J. MARSH, I. R. WALLIS & W. J. FOLEY
School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, Canberra, 0200, A.C.T., Australia
Wild animals invariably obtain their nutrient requirements, regulate their ingestion of toxins and even self-medicate. This review suggests that, while size and morphology dictate gross diet, the ability to select a diet is learnt. Animals learn to distinguish nutritious foods from less beneﬁcial or toxic items through the positive and negative consequences of ingestion. In this process, early life experiences appear to be critically important. Zoo animals can rarely be provided with their wild diets and caretakers substitute nutrients from other sources. Thus, a suitable range of ingredients should be provided to give the animals a stimulating and nutritious diet that ensures excellent health.