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Feeding carnvores

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Chris Furley, 6 Oct 2015.

  1. Chris Furley

    Chris Furley Member

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    Location:
    UK
    Hello Everyone,
    I have been asked to give a presentation at one of the big scientific meetings in London shortly on feeding carnivores (in captivity).

    The idea is to persuade people that feeding domestic carnivores (dogs/cats) 'plastic' processed food is wrong and leads to all sorts of behavioural and nutritional problems. I want to bring everyone back down to earth and remind them where domestic carnivores actually come from and how to respect that.

    Having worked for 3 decades in zoos and parks I have my own opinions on feeding carnivores but would like to know if anyone has views on the following:
    1. feeding at night to mimic behaviour in the wild (if relevant to the species)
    2. feeding pregnant animals separately (necessary?)
    3. feeding in multiple places to avoid fighting
    4. feeding whole carcasses (eg. rabbits, sheep etc)
    5. feeding only meat and adding vit/min mix to the diet
    6. feeding fish to carnivores which habitually eat red meat (eg. big cats)
    7. feeding red meat to carnivores which habitually only eat fish (eg. otters)
    8. leaving food/carcasses etc in animal paddocks overnight
    9. any special meat-based diets for weaning time ?
    10. feeding road kills

    I expect there will be other topics to add to this list as the discussion develops. All views welcome, thank you.
     
  2. Zoovolunteer

    Zoovolunteer Well-Known Member

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    As far as feeding whole carcasses goes the chief issue I expect is the general public. The largest whole carcasses I have seen fed at my local zoo (Bristol) are up to the size of rabbits or quail, although they also use larger pieces of meat such as horse heads for the lions. Even that results in comments - not necessarily adverse I must add. Feeding something the size of a calf or sheep to the lions might be slightly upsetting for children (or more likely parents)
     
  3. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Arizona, USA
    If you want an American perspective, I suggest you contact the Feline Conservation Federation using this form on their website: Contact Feline Conservation Federation
    The organization has wild cat handlers both from the private sector and from public zoos and are a wealth of information.
     
  4. ZooElephantsMan

    ZooElephantsMan Well-Known Member

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    I think feeding red meat to otters sounds a bit weird, but feeding fish to big cats doesn't.
     
  5. annebn

    annebn Well-Known Member

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    I think feeding whole carcasses is good, not just dietary reasons but also as a form of enrichment- it takes a lot longer to eat a sheep if it is whole, than if it is chopped up and processed. Now I thinking of zoo animals, I probably wouldn't feed my domestic pet dog or cat (if I had any) whole animals, just because of the mess that would make.

    My local zoo routinely feed the big carnivores whole carcasses, it can be horse, pig, goat (the occasional giraffe, but let's not go there), and I've never really seen a kid get upset by it. As zoovolounteer says, the parents are probably more likely to. I have seen some the upset when the small carnivores get fed whole (dead) mice though. Maybe because the mice reminds them of an own pet?

    A lot of the questions will also depend on the species of carnivore. For example, if it is necessary to feed separately to avoid fighting; this could be very different for lions and wolves that naturally live in groups, than for more solitary species like tigers and polar bears.
     
  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    I've always wanted to see zoo animals chow down on a big carcass. I've seen animals eat mice and rats, but that's about it.
     
  7. Chris Furley

    Chris Furley Member

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    13 Apr 2012
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    Location:
    UK
    Thanks people for your replies : personally I am in favour of feeding whole animals as I do believe it is more natural and also occupies a lot of time which would otherwise be spent in boredom. I have discovered there is a huge gap between what the public expect zoo animals to be fed and how they feed their own (domestic) carnivores.