Amino Acid Nutrition for Optimum Growth, Development, Reproduction, and Health of Zoo Animals. Academic Article uri icon


  • Proteins are large polymers of amino acids (AAs) linked via peptide bonds, and major components for thegrowth and development of tissues in zoo animals (including mammals, birds, and fish). The proteinogenic AAs are alanine, arginine, aspartate, asparagine, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine. Except for glycine, they are all present in the L-isoform. Some carnivores may also need taurine (a nonproteinogenic AA) in their diet. Adequate dietary intakes of AAs are necessary for thegrowth, development, reproduction, health and longevity of zoo animals. Extensive research has established dietary nutrient requirements for humans, domestic livestock and companion animals. However, this is not true for many exotic or endangeredspecies found in zoos due to the obstacles that accompany working with these species. Information on diets and nutrient profiles of free-ranging animals is needed. Even with adequate dietary intake of crude protein, dietary AAs may still be unbalanced, which can lead to nutrition-related diseases and disorders commonly observed in captive zoo species, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, urolithiasis, gut dysbiosis, and hormonal imbalances. There are differences in AA metabolism among carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. It is imperative to consider these idiosyncrasies when formulating diets based on established nutritional requirements of domestic species. With optimal health, populations of zoo animals will have a vastly greater chance of thriving in captivity. For endangered species especially, maintaining stable captive populations is crucial for conservation. Thus, adequate provision of AAs in diets plays a crucial role in the management, sustainability and expansion of healthy zoo animals.

published proceedings

  • Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

author list (cited authors)

  • Herring, C. M., Bazer, F. W., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Herring, Cassandra M||Bazer, Fuller W||Wu, Guoyao

publication date

  • January 2021