Article ID: 20-0190
The prevention of diseases through health control is essential at zoos. Recently, the gut microbiota, which is an ecosystem consisting of the bacteria living in the digestive tract, has been found to be one of the key systems that mediates animal health. However, there is little basic knowledge about gut microbiota in zoo animals, particularly the relationship between mothers and infants during lactation. Here, we investigated the formation of the gut microbiota during infancy in an Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) in Okinawa Zoo and compared the composition between infant and mother. In addition, we analyzed the components of breast milk and examined the correlation with the infant gut microbiota. Analysis revealed that the gut microbiota of the infant contained high amount of Lactobacillales and its diversity was relatively low compared to that of the mother. We found several milk components, such as lactose, threonine and estradiol-17β, which showed a positive correlation with the change of Lactobacillales during the lactation period. In conclusion, the present study sheds light on the mechanism of gut microbiota formation during infancy in an Asian elephant and provides important insights into the health control of Asian elephants in zoos.