Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Michael T. Maslanka, Senior Animal Nutritionist, Department of Animal Nutrition


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, B.S., Wildlife Science, 1993

University of Minnesota, M.S., Nutritional Physiology, 1996

Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo, Zoo Nutrition Residency, 1996-1998

Professional History and Interests

Mike Maslanka came to the National Zoo as the Head of the Department of Nutrition in November 2007. He is responsible for oversight and guidance of Commissary operations, clinical nutrition, nutrition lab operations, field and zoo based nutrition research, nutrition education, and outreach for the Rock Creek and Front Royal campuses of the Zoo. Before joining the staff at the Zoo, he was the nutritionist at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, and has worked and/or consulted for numerous other zoos throughout the U.S. during his career.

Maslanka is a professional fellow in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), serves on the steering committee for the AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, and is a member of the Comparative Nutrition Society. He currently serves as nutrition advisor for numerous SSP and TAG Programs. He has chaired or co-chaired the AZA Nutrition Advisory Group Conferences on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition since 1999, and has the opportunity to guest lecture in a variety of undergraduate and graduate level nutrition courses at several universities.

His main areas of nutrition research include: foraging behavior and nutritional physiology of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus); comparative crop milk composition across different species of Columbidae and flamingos; hand-rearing efforts with American flamingos and kori bustards; influences on iron metabolism in zoo species; and practical collection-based clinical nutrition concerns.

Maslanka enjoys most outdoor activities, and is an avid mountain biker and rock climber, having conducted such pursuits in many areas throughout the U.S. over the last 20 years.

Selected Publications

Maslanka, M., H. Krum, T. Binder, R. Davis, C. Coco, and C. Schreiber. 2006. Preliminary Observation of Diet, Protein, and Energy Consumption by the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus). Proc 6th Symposium of the Comp Nut Soc. Keystone, CO. Pp 96-100.

Crissey, S.D, A.M. Ward, S.E. Block, and M.T. Maslanka. 2001. Hepatic Iron Accumulation Over Time in European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) Fed Two Different Levels of Iron. J Zoo Wildl Med 31(4): 491-496.

Edwards, M.E., M.E. Allen, and M.T. Maslanka. 1999. Nutrition and Energetics of Carnivores during Reproduction and Development, with Specific Reference to Red (Ailurus fulgens) and Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanleuca). CBSG Veterinary Medicine and Nutrition of Carnivores Workshop, Chengdu, China.

Crissey, S.D., M.T. Maslanka, and D.E. Ullrey. 1999. Assessment of Nutritional Status of Captive and Free-Ranging Animals. AZA Nutrition Advisory Group Handbook. Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, IL. Technical Paper 008.

Maslanka, M.T. and S.D. Crissey. 1998. Blood, Protein, and Energy Consumption by Common Vampire Bats (Desmodus rotundus). Proc 2nd Symposium of the Comp Nut Soc. Banff, Alberta, Canada. Pp 126-131.