Estimated composition of diets fed to captive black-And-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia Variegata) at 33 U.S. zoological institutions

Brett C. Donadeo, Katherine R. Kerr, Cheryl L. Morris, Kelly S. Swanson

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Data on captive diets for black-And-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) are limited. Information on food items used, inclusion amounts, and the chemical composition of diets is needed to improve the management of nutrition-related health problems seen in captive lemurs (e.g., obesity) that have not been reported in their wild counterparts. To determine the ingredient and nutrient composition of diets for captive V. variegata, U.S. zoological institutions were surveyed. Chemical composition of reported diets was estimated using Nutritionist Pro™ (Axxya Systems, Stafford, Texas 77477, USA), and these values were compared numerically to wild lemur diets from the literature. Institutions included from six to greater than 30 different ingredients in their diets, including fruits (0.0-84.1%), vegetables (7.5-70.0%), greens (1.0-28.5%), and commercially available feeds (1.5-68.6%). Nutrient concentrations of captive diets ranged as follows: dry matter (DM), 14.5-67.6%; organic matter, 93.1-97.2% DM basis (DMB); crude protein, 7.9-23.9% DMB; fat, 2.0-6.5% DMB; total dietary fiber, 10.1-28.1% DMB; and N-free extract, 38.9-74.4% DMB. Captive diets had lower fat and total dietary fiber and higher protein and N-free extract compared to wild fruit items from Madagascar. Reducing the amount of fruit in captive diets for V. variegata would be expected to decrease digestible carbohydrate content and increase fiber content of these diets, which has implications for the prevalence of obesity in captive animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Black-And-white ruffed lemur
  • Nutrition
  • Primate
  • Total dietary fiber
  • Varecia variegata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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