Milk composition in free-ranging polar bears (Ursus maritimus) as a model for captive rearing milk formula

Zoo Biol. Sep-Oct 2011;30(5):550-65. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20375. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Abstract

The goals of this study were to have an improved understanding of milk composition and to help create a suitable milk formula for cubs raised in captivity. Milk samples were evaluated for fat, fatty acids, carbohydrate, vitamin D(3), 25(OH)D(3), vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E (α-tocopherol), protein, and amino acids. Total lipids in milk did not differ for cubs (mean ± SEM = 26.60 ± 1.88 g/100 ml vs. yearlings 27.80 ± 2.20 g/100 ml). Milk lipids were of 23.6% saturated fatty acid for cubs and 22.4% for yearlings. Milk consumed by cubs and yearlings contained 43.8 and 42.0% mono-unsaturated fatty acids and 23.4 and 21.9% polyunsaturated fatty acids, respectively. Carbohydrate content was higher in milk for cubs (4.60 ± 0.64 g/100 ml) than for yearlings (2.60 ± 0.40 g/100 ml). Vitamin D(3) concentration of milk was 18.40 ± 5.00 ng/ml in early lactation compared with 7.60 ± 2.00 ng/ml for mid-lactation. 25(OH)D(3) was lower in milk consumed by cubs (162.00 ± 6.70 pg/ml) than in milk consumed by yearlings (205.00 ± 45.70 pg/ml). Vitamin A concentrations were 0.06 ± 0.01 and 0.03 ± 0.01 µg/ml for cubs and yearlings, respectively. Vitamin E was higher in milk consumed by cubs (20.16 ± 4.46 µg/ml) than by yearlings (7.30 ± 1.50 µg/ml). Protein content did not differ in milk available to cubs (11.40 ± 0.80 g/100 ml compared with milk for yearlings 11.80 ± 0.40 g/100 ml). Taurine was the most abundant free amino acid at 3,165.90 ± 192.90 nmol/ml (0.04% as fed basis).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Carbohydrates / chemistry
  • Fats / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Female
  • Food, Formulated / analysis*
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Milk / metabolism
  • Milk Proteins / chemistry
  • Ursidae / physiology*
  • Vitamins / chemistry

Substances

  • Amino Acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Milk Proteins
  • Vitamins