Okapi Case Study

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Discoveries of new and unexplored animals pose a challenge to Zoological nutritionists and veterinarians. Charged with the task of formulating a diet for an animal for whom they have no concrete nutritional information, professionals have to develop innovative ways to extrapolate what they know about existing domesticated animals’ diets and digestive tracts and apply it to exotic animals. Such an approach can be very helpful in the case of the okapi.
Okapia johnstoni, commonly known as the “Okapi,” was first discovered in 1900 deep in the Ituri rainforest of central Africa and is now an endangered species (San Diego Zoo Global, 2016). At first glance the 600 pound, 5 foot okapi looks like a mix of zebra and deer (San Diego Zoo Global, 2016).
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Six wethers and four mares were used throughout the entirety of the study. Each animal was housed within its own individual stall at the University of California, Davis, which each featured one bucket for water and another for feed. All animals were fed twice a day at approximately 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sheep were fed 500 g and horses 3500 g of pelleted alfalfa per feeding. Feed was presented at the same time within each group of animals to ensure similar passage time through digestive tracts. At each feeding, amount of feed presented that day and amount of feed refused from the previous day was recorded. A one week acclimation period was implemented at the beginning of the study to allow previous feed to pass out of the animals system, microbial flora to adjust to the new feed, and animals to adjust to their physical environment. After the acclimation period, feces were collected twice a day at the same time as feeding. The total collection method was used for sheep using a collection harness whereas representative samples were collected for the mares. Feces, along with a sample of the alfalfa pelleted feed, were dried and then processed to find NDF, DM, EE, and CP content by both Nutrition 115 students and teaching assistants in labs 6 and 7 following the printed lab manual instructions. Although a total collection was done on …show more content…
They have a four compartment stomach made up of the reticulum, rumen, omasum, and abomasum (Figure 1). Fermentation in the rumen results in volatile fatty acids and other microbial nutrients. Volatile fatty acids are absorbed through the lining of the rumen, reticulum, and omasum. Acid digestion occurs in the abomasum where gastric juices, comprised of HCl and pepsin, start the digestion of food by denaturing proteins. The process of rumination mixes ingested feed with microbes, acid, and enzymes as it travels through the stomach to the small intestine. Pancreatic enzymes (trypsin, chymotrypsin, procarboxypeptidase, lipase, and amylase) and bile break down microbial and food proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates into amino acids, monoglycerides, fatty acids, and glucose components to be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine. Longitudinal and circular muscles mix and pass chyme down along the small and large intestines. Following water absorption in the large intestine, undigested material is secreted out of the body. Because microbial fermentation occurs before the small intestine, the sheep is able to benefit and absorb the products of fermentation as well as microbial protein, fats, etc. into the

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