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SOS Rhino : Research, Projects and Grants : Grants 2000 : Black Rhino Nutrition : Iron and copper absorption...


“Dietary Iron and Copper Absorption in the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis minor).”



Dr. Patrica Dennis Dr. Scott Citino
Dr. Guy Lester Dr. Ed Ott


White Oak Conservation Center
Yulee, FL

University of Florida
Gainsville, FL


The primary aim of the proposed study is to examine the efficiency of iron and copper absorption in the black rhinoceros. In their natural habitat, the black rhinoceros is a browser. In captivity, the black rhino is fed more of a grazer diet.

It is our hypothesis that the black rhinoceros more efficiently extracts and absorbs important dietary minerals, such as iron and copper, than do grazing animals.

Increased mineral uptake may be the most important predisposing factor to hemosiderosis and hemolytic anemia in this species. We intend to use classical nutrition techniques, commonly used in domesticated animals, to study the dietary absorption of minerals in black rhinos. Specifically we will feed the indigestible marker, chromium oxide (Cr2O3), until a steady state has been achieved between intake and fecal excretion of marker. At that time we will analyze fecal concentrations of chromium, iron, and copper in the black rhinos.

Not only will data from this study be critical in determining nutritional needs of the black rhinos, it may shed further light onto the pathogenesis of hemosiderosis and hemolytic anemia in the captive black rhino.


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