Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Mission: High Quality Nutrition!

A popular question on IEAS conservation education tours is how we determine how much to feed each of our residents. Believe it or not, there is no formula to use. Each animal is different, and their individual traits have to be taken into account.

When an animal arrives at IEAS, we start them on a diet consisting of 2% of their body weight. We then consider their age, metabolism, and activity level. Nala, an approximately 300 lb., 16 year old lioness, eats 3 to 5 lbs of meat per day. Allie Kat, a 300 lb, 7 year old Bengal tiger average 12-14 pounds per day. This difference is accounted for by the fact that Allie has a much higher metabolic rate than Nala, and is significantly more active. Additionally, diet amounts fluctuate with the season. During the winter, the amounts tend to increase as the cats exert more energy to stay warm, while during the summer, the heat brings a decrease in appetite for IEAS residents.

As these animals would not eat every day in the wild. Instead, they may feed on up to 60 lbs in one sitting. Several species, including cougars and leopards, will cache what they don't eat and finish it later. To simulate their wild nature, we only feed them their normal diets 6 days a week. On the 7th day, we have a Bone Day. Beef bones are provided to the cats to exercise their jaws. They also provide benefits to their teeth and digestive tract, while simultaneously functioning as an enrichment device.

Here at the Sanctuary, we have seen the consequences of a poor diet in animals upon their arrival. When Noel, a male Siberian tiger arrived at IEAS, his bones were soft and riddled with hairline fractures as a result of poor nutrition. He was unable to walk or even stand up for the first two or three weeks at IEAS. Nala, a female lion, was malnourished and suffering from severe osteoporosis when she was rescued. At just four months old, all of her major bones except a front leg had hairline fractures as a result of improper diet. Fortunately, both of these amazing animals have made incredible recoveries with the help of proper care and nutrition.

Proper nutrition can deter other health problems such as loose stool, feline urinary syndrome, taurine deficiency, poor reproduction, tooth and gum disease, metabolic bone disease, and obesity.

At IEAS, we know that health and happiness go hand-in-hand, and we ensure that each and every resident animal is provided with the proper diet, thereby ensuring their happiness, comfort, and well-being! 

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