Marine Based Diet Reformulation Reflects Changing Environment

Feb 07, 2020

Shrinking polar ice caps and the future of polar bears frequently makes media headlines around the globe. Regardless of the ultimate cause of climate change, sea-ice habitat for polar bears has been reducing, which limits the time they can hunt their prey successfully. This decrease in food resource availability has shifted some research to be more nutrition based, allowing a better understanding of how to care for these magnificent animals.
Today there is limited knowledge of actual polar bear nutrient requirements. While it is not practical or feasible to conduct the proper nutrition studies necessary to determine actual vitamin and mineral needs of many exotic species like the polar bear, learning more about wild bear nutrition will provide insight into how to formulate a better diet for them.
Currently, the Association of Zoo & Aquarium’s Bear Taxon Advisory Group has created estimated nutritional requirements for this species to use when balancing a polar bears’ daily diet. While this information is helpful and of use when caring for polar bears, much of this information was derived from reviewing nutrition studies of other bear species, or from dogs and cats when information was lacking. Therefore, further studies with polar bears would provide more insight into their actual nutrition.
A study underway with the St. Louis Zoo, Alaska U.S. Geological Survey, and Mazuri® will examine wild polar bear blood samples and compare those to bears in managed care. Blood samples have been collected and analyzed on 40 wild Alaskan polar bears. These results will provide a glimpse into the daily nutrition of these great Arctic animals.
Approximately two years ago, Mazuri® began reformulating its polar bear diet by reducing the overall plant and starch content, while increasing protein and fat. This higher fish based, no soy, and no corn diet is ideal for managed caregivers looking to reduce the amount of plant matter in their polar bear’s diet. The new Mazuri® Wild Carnivore™ Bear - Marine Based Diet may also be used with other bear species either seasonally or as part of their regular diet; particularly if they may benefit from a more marine/fish based diet.
A variety of bears, in zoos throughout the country, have eaten the new Mazuri® Wild Carnivore™ Bear - Marine Based Diet with great success. Mazuri® has also partnered with Washington State University, looking at palatability, fecal quality and energy values using the brown bear as a model. While the primary focus of Mazuri®’s dietary modifications has centered on the polar bear, other bear species may benefit from eating a more marine-based diet as well.
The Mazuri® Wild Carnivore™ Bear - Marine Based Diet under development for the following species and situations:
  • Polar bears
  • Seasonal diet for brown and black bears
  • Bears with low body condition
  • Bears with poor coat quality
  • Bears with dry skin
Mazuri®‘s continuous focus on nutrition research will help improve existing bear diets. The new Mazuri® Wild Carnivore™ Bear - Marine Based Diet will be a great addition to your animal’s daily diet.

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