Captive giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) are reported to have low linolenic acid concentrations in body tissues in comparison with free-ranging individuals. However, it is not known whether this merely reflects a different diet, or whether it impairs body functions. As linseed contains significant amounts of linolenic acid, the feeding of linseed extraction chips might be a practical way of supplementation.
Captive giraffe with low linolenic acid status in their blood lipids (compared to domestic ruminants) were introduced to a diet that included linseed extraction chips. Blood lipids of animals from which samples were available after the change in dietary regime (n=2) showed an increase in linolenic acid content. One of the animals had a history of skin lesions resistant to treatment. The skin lesions improved markedly during the course of linseed supplementation.
While long-term effects of either linolenic acid deficiency or linolenic acid supplementation in giraffe remain to be demonstrated, these results suggest that giraffe might benefit from the addition of linseed extraction chips to their diet.