Optmizing dolphin health with zoomorphtrak

Preparing an optimal diet is one of many important factors that contribute to providing state of the art care in zoos and aquariums. Zoo animal nutritionists develop properly balanced diets that are tailored to each species’ feeding method, digestive system, evolutionary history, individual preference, and the season. The bottlenose dolphins that call Brookfield Zoo home are no different. A custom diet is prepared every day that includes specific amounts of a variety of fish species. These diets are continually monitored and revised for each dolphin based on their weight, age, growth rate, body condition, reproductive needs, and the season.

We are continuing to make advances in developing diets on an individual level by creating tools that can be used to suggest ideal bodyweight ranges for individual dolphins and estimate unknown weights. In 2018, CZS launched an iOS mobile software application called ZooMorphTrak. ZooMorphTrak is designed for trainers, managers, and veterinarians to use in zoos, aquariums, and rehabilitation centers.

Those who work with bottlenose dolphins can input specific dolphin body measurements into the app. The app compares their bodyweight, length, girth, age, and sex to wild bottlenose dolphins in Sarasota Bay, FL and suggests a healthy bodyweight range. The app can also estimate the bodyweight of a dolphin from measurements of its length, girth, age, and sex. This feature is particularly helpful for dolphins who are still learning how to be weighed and for those who cannot be weighed due to age or pregnancy.

ZooMorphTrak can be used by professionals to assist in bottlenose dolphin body condition assessments and guide management decisions for custom care. The app is available for download in the iTunes app store at www.itunes.apple.com. To learn more about how ZooMorphTrak was developed visit: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mms.12568

Published February 1, 2019