Why Supplement Elephants with Vitamin E

Elephants in captivity often have much lower levels of serum vitamin E as compared to their wild counterparts. For example, African bush elephants translocated from Swaziland to the U.S. had serum vitamin E that dropped from 0.41 μg/ml in the wild to 0.13 μg /ml after four years in captivity (Schlegel et al., 2008). Similarly low levels of circulating vitamin E have been found in other captive elephant populations (e.g., Dierenfeld and Dolensek, 1988; Wallace et al., 1992).
In order to maintain blood vitamin E at levels similar to that found in wild elephants, it is recommended that animals be fed at least 130 IU vitamin E/kg diet. (Dierenfeld and Dolensek, 1988). Additionally, it is important that the source of dietary vitamin E be readily available to the animals, with synthetic vitamin E sources generally being less available than natural vitamin E sources (Papas et al., 1991).

Mazuri® Elephant Diet (5666) is designed to provide the necessary vitamin E for captive elephants and contains a very high level of vitamin E (>850 IU/kg supplement). Additionally, Mazuri offers Emcelle-tocopherol (Cat #10111), a readily available, micellized vitamin E source that can be mixed into water or top-dressed on feed, and has been shown to increase plasma vitamin E in elephants (Wallace et al., 1992; Kenny, 2001).

For more information, contact Mazuri Customer Service at 1-800-227-8941.

  • Dierenfeld, E. S., Dolensek, E. P. 1988. Circulating levels of vitamin E in captive Asian elephants. Zoo Biology. 7:165-172.
  • Kenny, 2001. Long term administration of alpha-tocopherol in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Zoo Biol 20:245-250.
  • Papas, A.M. Cambre, R.C., Citino, S.B., Sokol, R.J. 1991. Efficacy of absorption of various vitamin E forms by captive elephants and black rhinoceroses. J. Zoo Wildlife Med. 22:309.
  • Schlegel, M., Schmidt, D., Edwards, M.S.. 2008. Case Study: Changes in Blood Mineral and Vitamin Status of Free-Ranged African Bush Elephants (Loxodonta africana africana) When Translocated to a Zoo. Proc. Comparative Nutr. Society. P 213-28. Liscomb Mills, Nova Scotia.
  • Wallace, C., Ingram, K.A., Dierenfeld, E.S., Stuart, R.L. 1992. Serum vitamin E status in captive elephants during prolonged supplementation of micellized natural α-tocopherol. Proc. Joint Meeting AAZV/AAWV.