Francis Cabana

Francis Cabana



Thesis title: Using Nutritional Ecology (Native Ingredients and Chemical Composition) of the Javan Slow Loris to Improve Captive Feeding Husbandry

Start year: 2014


Research topic

Slow lorises are held in more than 60 accredited zoological institutions in North America and in Europe, with their numbers in the hundreds in Asian zoos and rescue centres. The captive populations lack evidence based guidelines which has led to inadequate diets. This is directly linked to the plethora of health problems captive lorises are afflicted with. This problem is also present in all Asian rescue centres where not only lack of guidelines, but resources is also an issue. This project will enable the production of nutrient recommendations for slow loris species, as well as guidelines to create the ideal captive diet for zoos and for rescue centres (including many local and affordable ingredients). Diets of wild free ranging slow lorises will be qualified and quantified which will allow for average nutrient intakes to be calculated. These nutrient targets will be used as a framework to create diets. Validation of these nutrient targets will occur in rescue centres in Southeast Asia, and will include monitoring digestibility, mean gut retention and transit times, gut microbiome, behaviour, nutrient intake and food preference.


Nutrition, Captive Care, Prosimian, Zoo, Captive Care, Exudate, Gut Microbiome

General research interests

Zoo nutrition, primates, nutritional geometry, food preference, captive care, nutritional wisdom, hornbill nutrition, gut microbiome, rescue centre management, myrmecophage nutrition, animal husbandry, metabolism, digestive physiology, dentition

Teaching experience

  • University of Plymouth, MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology
  • University of Exeter, MSc in Animal Behaviour


Conference papers

  • Cabana, F. and Nekaris, K.A.I. 2015. Diets high in fruits and low in gym exudates promote the occurrence and development of dental disease in pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus). Zoo Biology 9999: 1-7
  • Williams, E., Cabana, F., and Nekaris, K.A.I. 2015. Improving diet and activity of insectivorous primates in captivity: naturalizing the diet of northern Ceylon gray slender loris, Loris nydekkerianus nordicus. Zoo Biology Early View.
  • Moore, R.S., Cabana, F. and Nekaris, K.A.I. 2015. Factors influencing stereotypic behaviours of animals rescued from Asian animal markets: A slow loris case study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science (In Press)
  • Cabana, F, and Plowman, A. 2014. Naturalistic diet replication of pygmy slow loris (N. pygmaeus) in captivity. Endangered Species Research 23, 197-204.
  • Cabana, F. 2014. Pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) European zoo diet survey result. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 2(2), 39-43.
  • Cabana, F. 2014. The Truth About Fruit. BIAZA News (2), 13-14.
  • Cabana, F. 2013. Pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) natural diet replication in captivity. BIAZA Research Newsletter 14 (3).
  • Cabana, F. 2013. Pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) European diet survey. BIAZA Research Newsletter 14 (4).
  • Cabana, F, and Baker, K. 2013. Cognitive enrichment for ungulates. BIAZA Research Newsletter 14 (2).

Academic and professional training

  • 2011–2012 University of Plymouth, MSc Zoo Conservation Biology
  • 2008–2011 McGill University, BSc Applied Zoology

Scholarships and prizes

  • Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund Grant Winner, 2014/2015
  • AZA Nutriton Advisory Group Winner for best presentation 2015
  • BIAZA Research Conference Winner for best presentation 2013

Other experience and professional activities

  • 2012–Present Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Nutrition Researcher
  • 2013–Present Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, French Copy-Editor for “Lemur News” Journal
  • 2014–2015 Little Fireface Project, Research Coordinator
  • 2012–2013 University of Exeter, PhD Research Assistant
  • 2011–2012 Granby Zoo (Granby, Canada), Animal Keeper
  • 2009–2009 Ecomuseum Zoo (Montreal, Canada), Invertebrate, Fish, Amphibian and Reptile Keeper