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Feeding the animals... allowed or not?

 
 
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  #1
Feeding the animals... allowed or not?
Old 04-09-2008

Feeding the animals is a thing that in most zoo's is forbidden and that irritates me when people do it . Last week I was on holiday in Germany and I also went to Hamburg so I decided to visit the Hagenbeck Zoo (wich was nice). There it's allowed to feed some of the animals with food that you can buy at the entrance of the park (fruit and vegetables). Everywhere in the park are signs wich animals you can feed, wich not. At the Baboon exhibit it was full of people throwing tons of fruit to them. I know it's healthy food but it looked too much for the animals to eat. I thought that they would stop eating when they have enough but everytime I came again they were eating and eating.

I think it's good because people don't throw other food to animals anymore like biscuits but on the other hand I think it could be not healthy for some animals when they get food every time of the day, although the food is healthy...

What do you think? A good system of Hagenbeck Zoo or not?
Are there other zoo's where it's allowed?


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  #2
Old 04-09-2008

i think feeding animals does help people to feel more of a connection to the animals and it might help them to take away a greater sense of responsibility for the future. however i dont think the method of this zoo is very good. the amount of food is so uncontrolled and im sure that the more popular animals like the babbons probably get a lot more food then other animals as every one wants to feed their favs. and like you said there is no way for keepers to determine home much food each individual is reciving iver the course of the day which is a vital part of being able to care for them effectivly.
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  #3
Old 05-09-2008

Ah, the topic of animal feeding by visitors in zoos-a subject that has engaged zoos for several decades now. Over the years, the attitude has changed from "Feed whatever You want to whatever You want" to "Do Not Feed the Animals" or only selected feeding (petting zoos, deer gardens, keeper talk etc.).

There are several reasons why nowadays most zoos prohibit the feeding of zoo animals (nevertheless, a lot of zoo animals end up each year on the surgery or necropsy table because of feeding by visitors). The most important issues are veterinarian/general husbandry concerns (zoonosis transfer, adipositas, control of the amount and quality of food taken in by the individual, guarantee of apt food, prevention of foreign body intake, increased aggression of animals against each other and visitors out of greed, increased accident risk etc.), but also other aspects (begging animals are no longer "PC"...) are taken here into account. And if You remember the constant reports about stupid visitor behaviour, which fill more than one thread here, one can understand why zoos don't want to face an unnecessary risk here.

On the other hand, the feeding of animals is a rare and great opportunity for direct animal-contact-a very important aspect in the self-acclaimed role of modern zoos as nature-mankind-interface. Additionally, responsible (ha, a good joke...) feeding by the visitors would also have the affect of dividing the meal for the animal into several small parts a day, instead of one or two "big meals" a day. This can be both beneficial in terms of a better digestion as well as crucial in lowering stereotypical behaviour in some cases (as recent studies show that irregular feeding at varying intervalls a day can significantly decrease stereotypical behaviour in some specimens). However, I wouldn't count on the latter...

Hamburg Zoo is still a private business and needs all the money they can get-including animal food sales. The problem of this recently made the news due
that orang-utan drowning in the attempt to reach food offered by a visitor...

In conclusion, animal feeding in zoos is a mixed blessing. Most veterinarians, keepers and curators would be happy if they did not have to mourn about a visitor-feeding related animal loss, while the visitors and the animal food salesmen would love to return to the old "Feed whatever.." motto. So what? I wouldn't ask the animals themselves, though, as the answer ("Gimme me food") would be rather predictable in some cases...My suggestion: why not feed the zoo staff instead? Preferably delicatessen and first-class beverages; Whole Foods products now and then might do, too...

Finally, I would like to remember some old allegations that came up when Frankfurt Zoo (under Grzimek) abolished the feeding of the animals by visitors; according to the "experts" back then, this would result in the ultimate downfall of zoos, as no one would then visit a zoo if not being allowed to feed the animals... Yes, the Times They Are a Changin'....

Last edited by Sun Wukong; 05-09-2008 at 12:51 AM..
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  #4
Old 05-09-2008

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Originally Posted by Sun Wukong View Post
My suggestion: why not feed the zoo staff instead? Preferably delicatessen and first-class beverages; Whole Foods products now and then might do, too...
Adipositis, Sun Wukong, adipositis...

BTW, old joke about zoo, chimp, student and lion comes to mind.

Some safari park also have "feed anyway you can" policy. In was also showered with mealworms in Walsrode, which enthusiastic child tossed "to the birds".

In theory... zoo might be able to separate: controlled feeding of most popular animals and not others... Perhaps if visitors can feed animal proper way, it will reduce feeding improper way - which people do anyway? Give people simple rules, they can understand... For example, near enclosures are labels showing which kind of food animal can be fed: with bears only carrots, potatoes and apples, with lemurs only apples and lettuce, with advanced primate department only Budweiser etc.
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  #5
Old 05-09-2008

Buenos Aires Zoo allowed feeding of most of their hoofstock (they have quite a lot, including llamas, alpacas and guanaco) ... usually by means of pellets they can purchase and then roll down a small wooden ramp from the footpath to a feeding box which the animals eat from (in most cases, no direct contact with the animals). I didn't pay close enough attention to see how well it worked in practice.

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Originally Posted by Jurek7 View Post
In theory... zoo might be able to separate: controlled feeding of most popular animals and not others... Perhaps if visitors can feed animal proper way, it will reduce feeding improper way - which people do anyway? Give people simple rules, they can understand
In my experience, it pays not to over-estimate the intelligence of the visitors ... I honestly don't think you can trust enough people to do the right thing - or otherwise you need to have keepers on duty to do crowd control and rule enforcement for the well-being of the animals.

There will be too many people who won't follow instructions, won't read the signs, or will try and feed ALL of the animals with whatever.

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Originally Posted by Jurek7 View Post
with advanced primate department only Budweiser etc.
Ha!
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  #6
Old 05-09-2008

The only zoos I've been too are in Australia, NZ and USA and all I can remember was a food dispenser (operated by coin) in an Australian Zoo (I think Australia Zoo 10 or so years ago)... Presumably they put the animal's quota in the dispenser and it paid the food bill...

I'm personally against all feeding by the public especially to primates...
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  #7
Old 05-09-2008

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Originally Posted by Jurek7 View Post
Adipositis, Sun Wukong, adipositis...
.
Not where I come from, pal... And good "slow food" together with apt movement won't have the feared consequences...
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  #8
Old 06-09-2008

We allow controlled amounts of food to be fed in our farm area. We also allow visitors to feed the fish in our zoo lake. Unfortunately a good part of the fish food goes to the hordes of Canada geese and mallard ducks that inhabit the lake who then make copious deposits on all of the paths. Next year we will have public giraffe feeding--I think we're going to use romaine lettuce.
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  #9
Old 06-09-2008

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Originally Posted by Rookeyper View Post
Next year we will have public giraffe feeding--I think we're going to use romaine lettuce.
I forgot they do that at Auckland Zoo rarely and on tours I have hand feed Lemurs too...
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  #10
Old 06-09-2008

i am usually let down when i visit french zoos to see mainly french visitors chucking food to some of the animals a vistor even reached across a large ditch just to give a elephant a slice of bread.

one story i have heard across the forum is a foreign family visiting monkey world and throwing bananas to the chimps and even when told not to continued what they were doing across the park and were eventually removed by a member of staff
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  #11
Old 07-09-2008

they have a hippo feeding time at west midlands safri park where young children can feed the hippos a wheelbarrow of cabbage from the elevated platform they have, supervised by a keeper
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  #12
Old 07-09-2008

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Originally Posted by foz View Post
they have a hippo feeding time at west midlands safri park where young children can feed the hippos a wheelbarrow of cabbage from the elevated platform they have, supervised by a keeper
When did they introduced this? Would of been a great time to see them active, plus a more sensible public feeding!
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  #13
Old 07-09-2008

Last time I went to Colchester Zoo (about 4 years ago), you could feed the elephants and giraffes at certain times. For the elephants, the keepers provided a tray of bread and fruit and veg and brought some of the elephants over to a gate. The elephants reached over with their trunks for the offered food and you got a nice slimey hand in return. They handed out tree leaves to feed to the giraffes. Everything was supervised by keepers and I really enjoyed it. You could also buy pellets for the sheep and goats.
At Paignton, you can buy duck food by the lake. Apart from that, feeding is prohibited. Try telling that to the IQ challenged visitors whom I've seen merrily throwing crisps etc to the macaques and Diana monkeys. It makes my blood boil and I took a photo of the last culprits I saw as, I said loudly, evidence for when the macaque dies.
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  #14
Old 07-09-2008

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Originally Posted by Gigit View Post
It makes my blood boil and I took a photo of the last culprits I saw as, I said loudly, evidence for when the macaque dies.
...Secret agent Gigit breaks cover at Paignton Zoo. Do they have 'Zoo volunteers' at Paignton? If so you should be one, if not you should instigate it.
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  #15
Old 07-09-2008

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
Everywhere in the park are signs wich animals you can feed, wich not. At the Baboon exhibit it was full of people throwing tons of fruit to them. I know it's healthy food but it looked too much for the animals to eat. I thought that they would stop eating when they have enough but everytime I came again they were eating and eating.

What do you think? A good system of Hagenbeck Zoo or not?
The baboons in the photo are certainly a good ,advert for public feeding, in the pink of condition with beautiful thick & glossy coats though maybe they're just a little on the plump side...
Selling food- either fruit/vegetables or pelleted food by the zoo for visitors to feed certain animals helps partially to offset the food bills. It also helps provide enrichment and activity for those animals which can benefit from public feeding.

Set against that are the dangers of obesity, of unsuitable foods or other items being fed, and of 'blanket feeding' where the visitors can't or don't discern between the animals they're allowed to feed and the ones they aren't. In drive-thru Safari Parks though, where some feeding of hoofstock is allowed, e.g. West Miodlands, the animals are attracted to surrounding cars, reducing their natural behaviour.

Last edited by Pertinax; 07-09-2008 at 11:39 PM..
 


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