The Missing Link Black Rhino study highlights the importance of omega 3 and omega 6 (which were derived from flaxseed) in an animal’s diet.
Despite an overall increase in the global number of African Rhinos, the Black Rhino has seen a quick decline! Shockingly, the number of Black Rhinos has been decreasing faster than any other large terrestrial mammals that has been documented recently. There are many reasons for their rapid deterioration, the main ones include poaching and habit encroachment.
Sadly, there have been no initiatives put in place to manage, prevent or slow this down and for this reason there is a lot of effort being put into looking after and maintaining the health of this species in protected environments and zoos. Unfortunately, public zoos have massive budget limitations when it comes to feeding their animals and keeping them healthy and nourished.
In the case of the Black Rhinoceros, the costs are simply too high-priced to import their native African diet to North America, and regrettably, there are not very many places here in the States that offer an appropriate habitat and apt temperatures to grow native African plants and it’s because of these limitations, it means that most Black Rhinos get fed a diet very similar in composition to that which is given to White Rhinos, despite their noteworthy differences both physically and chemically when it comes to what they eat in the wild.
For instance, the White Rhino likes to graze, and typically consumes a more grass rich diet instead of shrubs and trees. The Black Rhino is the complete opposite eating mostly trees and shrubs, and rarely eating grass unless by accident while eating shrubbery.
A White Rhinos main diet in captivity is typically alfalfa sprouts and green pellets as well as grass hays. Obviously, when this same diet is fed to the Black Rhinoceros, it does not do a great job of mimicking their natural diet in the wild.
Consequently, many of the Black Rhinos in captivity appear to be developing a mass of degenerative health issues and illnesses that are not being seen in other rhinoceros’ species like the White Rhino. This has been potentially attributed to the Black Rhino’s differing nutrient requirements and the nutritional differences in the native diet of trees and shrubs versus the diet they are fed while in captivity, which is largely a blend of hay and grain pellets. Additionally, essential fatty acid composition is thought to be a big culprit to the health concerns and diseases that are being seen, as the fatty acids that Black Rhinos consume in captivity are a poor match for what they would normally consume in the wild, both in levels as well as ratios.
In the case of the Black Rhinos, a study was conducted giving them an omega supplement from The Missing Link range on a regular basis. This supplementation resulted in drastic improvements in their overall health and wellbeing. The Black Rhinos were fed The Missing Link, giving them ideal ratios of alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid and linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid.
It is believed that for rhinos, as well as other species who have been given an omega-based supplement, it is of greater importance to determine the proper ratios of fatty acids to give them than it is to determine the overall levels of fatty acids they should consume. To summarise, quantity is less important than ensuring they have a proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6.
Now, let’s talk about Lucy. Lucy is an Eastern Black Rhino, she seemed to benefit amazingly well from The Missing Link supplement. Lucy first arrived in the United States when she was 3 years old from a South African elephant park. Interestingly, when she arrived, she already had a healthy baseline balance of linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids.
Within a year of arrival, she suffered a series of worrying blood problems attributed to her current diet and the ratios of EFA’s she was consuming. During the study, Lucy was flown in food from Zimbabwe, when Lucy ate the food flown in, researchers noticed a significant improvement in her health. This finding led them to look for other ways they could meet the nutritional requirements of Black Rhinos without importing food from Africa.
In order to establish baseline levels, researchers conducted blood tests to measure Lucy’s fatty acid profiles as well as the profiles of four other Black Rhinos. Before supplementation, Lucy and her friends were also fed a diet of ground aspen feed pellets and alfalfa hay, as well as some oranges in small amounts. They were also fed various plants like honeysuckle, willow, and mulberry and were given a small salt block to lick. The selected rhinos were then given The Missing Link nutritional supplements that are composed of (at minimum) 18% linoleic acid, and 50% linolenic acid.
For four months, the researchers monitored these Black Rhinos and they noticed that not only did the animal’s fatty acid ratios improve but they also noted that the Black Rhino exhibited no ill side effects from the supplementation.
Lucy, the Black Rhino who at one point was extremely sick, was fed only The Missing Link supplement alongside her aspen feed pellets. The Missing Link supplement played a large role in her health improvements and she showed absolutely zero signs of the issues and diseases she had previously suffered from.
Meanwhile, as Lucy was being treated and consistently monitored, another 3-year-old female Black Rhino arrived in the United States and showed the same ratios of essential fatty acids as Lucy had when it was thought they could be potentially harming her health.
The conclusion, based on the results of the study, was that supplementing with The Missing Link helped maintain a healthy and balanced ratio of linoleic acid and linolenic acid that is so important for their well-being. Lucy continued to receive the supplement after the study, and even one year after the study was complete, she was still presenting as healthy and appeared to be doing well.
This study does an excellent job of highlighting the importance of EFS’s (which in this case were derived from flax) in an animal’s diet, both large and small. Also, more critically, the importance of maintaining a healthy ratio of fatty acids, not just adequate levels of fatty acids.
THIS IS A PARTIAL LIST OF THE MANY SPECIES BENEFITNG FROM CONSUMING THE MISSING LINK
- Coquerel’s Sifaka
- Golden Lion Tamarin
- White-Nosed Coati
- Toggenburg Goat
- Greater Malayan Chevrotain
- Four-Toed Hedgehog
- East African Grey-Crowned Crane
- Red-Tailed Mustached Monkey
- Mountain/Woolly Tapir
- Harris’ Antelope Squirrel
- Black-Handed Spider Monkey Black Lemur
- Bactrian Camel
- Japanese Serow
- North American Black Bear
- Giant Eland
- Gelada Baboon
- Pied Tamarin
- Prevost’s Squirrel
- Red Uakari
- De Brazza’s Monkey
- One-Horned Rhinoceros
- Buff-Cheeked Gibbon
- Emperor Tamarin
- Sierra Nevada Black Bear
- Red-Capped Mangabey
- Masai Giraffe
- Turkmenistan Markhor
- North Sulawesi Babirusa