Variation of hematochemical profile and vitamin E status in feral Giara horses from free grazing in the wild to hay feeding during captivity.
Wildlife protection and management are important priorities for landscape identity and biodiversity preservation. Feeding practices of fauna confined in facilities during temporary captivity are fundamental to support animal health and natural behavior. Appropriate provision of feedstuffs appears to be necessary to support the best practices in respect of animal species-specific natural diet. This investigation explored the variation of the metabolic profile by means of selected metabolite and respective circulating levels in a group feral Giara horses undergoing the change of the diet, moving from natural free grazing in the wild to temporary captivity. Six Giara horses (4 mares and 2 stallions; estimated age: 2.5-3 years; body weight: 163-170 kg) were captured to monitor the serological reaction to equine infectious anemia (EIA; screening at Coggins test). Animals were sheltered in a wildlife rescue center for a duration of 4 weeks, and all received the same hay-based diet (ad libitum). On 0 and 28 days of captivity, blood serum alpha-tocopherol (α-TOH) concentration was determined alongside selected metabolites (liver enzymes, total protein and fractions, cholesterol, triglycerides, and macrominerals and trace elements). Comparative feces quality and composition were also assessed. Both serum samples (0 vs. 28 days) displayed α-TOH levels below (<2 μg/mL) adequacy established for the domestic horse. Initial levels markedly (P = .020) decreased after the 4 weeks of captivity (Δ = -32.5%). Vitamin E status and ALT levels varied significantly, but serum protein fractions did not point to significant variations before and after captivity. All horses tested negative to EIA. Monitoring of vitamin E status of wild and feral herbivores may be recommendable in the context of adequate feeding practices during captivity to prevent potential deficiency or excessive depletion.