Retrospective Evaluation of a Minor Dietary Change in Non-Diabetic Group-Housed Long-Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis)

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Macaques in captivity are prone to becoming overweight and obese, which may cause several health problems. A diet that mimics the natural diet of macaques may prevent these problems and improve animal welfare. Adjusting captive diets towards a more natural composition may include increasing fiber content and lowering the glycemic index, i.e., reducing the impact on blood glucose levels. Such a dietary change was implemented in our long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) breeding colony. The basic diet of monkey chow pellets remained the same, while the supplementary provisioning of bread was replaced by grains and vegetables. This study is a retrospective evaluation, based on electronic health records, that investigated whether this minor dietary change had a beneficial effect on relative adiposity and overweight-related health parameters in 44 non-diabetic, group-housed, female long-tailed macaques. Relative adiposity was measured with a weight-for-height index and blood samples were collected during yearly health checks. Glycemic response and lipid metabolism were evaluated using several biochemical parameters. Relative adiposity and overweight status did not differ after dietary change. Yet, relatively heavy individuals generally lost body weight, while relatively lean individuals gained body weight, leading to a more balanced body weight dynamic. Dietary change did not affect HbA1c and triglyceride levels, while fructosamine and cholesterol levels were significantly reduced. Thus, the minor dietary change had no significant effect on overweight status, but some biochemical parameters related to the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease were positively affected. This study emphasizes the importance of evaluating husbandry changes and that critically reviewing husbandry practices can provide valuable insights to improve animal health and welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2749
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2021


  • Adiposity
  • Feed
  • Fiber
  • Health
  • Non‐human primate
  • Nutrition


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