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Preliminary evaluation of selected minerals in liver samples from springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) from the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa

Keywords: Antidorcas marsupialis , copper , liver , manganese , selenium , springbok , zinc

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Abstract:

Limited information is available on the mineral nutrition of captive antelope in South Africa. Zoo animals are usually offered a very limited array of feeds, which may result in nutritional imbalances. As a pilot study to investigate the presence of myopathy in antelope at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG), stored liver samples from six springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) and seven other antelopes from the NZG, as well as selected food items, were submitted for analysis of selenium, copper, manganese and zinc content by spectrophotometry. Springbok liver levels of copper were 23.07 mg/kg ± 0.72 mg/kg, whilst manganese, selenium and zinc levels were 6.73 mg/kg ± 0.22 mg/kg, 0.14 mg/kg ± 0.05 mg/kg and 135.02 mg/kg ± 1.26 mg/kg, respectively. Liver mineral levels in the other species were very variable. Food item copper levels ranged from 4.00 mg/kg (Eragrostis tef) to 17.38 mg/kg (antelope cubes), lucerne (Medicago sativa) and E. tef contained no detectable selenium. The highest zinc levels were in antelope cubes (147.00 mg/kg) and the lowest were in lucerne (20.80 mg/kg). Interpretation of these results was hampered by the small number of samples and a paucity of information on liver mineral levels in free-ranging and captive antelope; however, results suggested that, in the springbok, whilst copper and manganese intake are likely adequate, selenium nutrition is probably insufficient and may account for the myopathy diagnosed. Zinc liver levels are possibly within the toxic range, perhaps as a result of the high levels of zinc in the antelope cubes. This pilot study highlighted the need to establish baseline mineral nutrition data for captive and freeranging antelope under South African conditions.

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