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Plasma and erythrocyte fatty acids in captive Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) elephants
  1. M. Clauss, MSc, DrMedVet1,
  2. Y. Wang, BSc, MPhil2,
  3. K. Ghebremeskel, BSc, MSc, PhD, MIBiol2,
  4. C. E. Lendl, DrMedVet, CertVA, MRCVS3 and
  5. W. J. Streich, DrRerNat4
  1. 1 Institute of Animal Physiology, Physiological Chemistry and Animal Nutrition, Veterinary Faculty, Ludwig- Maximilians University of Munich, Veterinarstrasse 13, D-80539 Munich, Germany
  2. 2 Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, University of North London, London N7 8DB
  3. 3 Erben, Fitz and Partners Veterinary Clinic, Gessertshausen, Germany
  4. 4 Institute of Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research (IZW), Berlin, Germany


The fatty acid components of the plasma triglycerides and the phospholipid fractions of the red blood cells of a captive group of two African (Loxodonta africana) and four Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants were investigated. All the animals received the same diet of hay, fruits and vegetables, and concentrates. A comparison with data from free-ranging African elephants or Asian work-camp elephants showed that the captive elephants had lower proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PuFAs), and for several lipid fractions a higher n-6:n-3 ratio, than their counterparts in the wild or under the more natural, in terms of diet, work-camp conditions. The difference in PUFA content was smaller in the African than in the Asian elephants. The captive Asian elephants tended to have lower levels of n-3 and total unsaturated fatty acids in their red blood cells than the captive African elephants.

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