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Question About Zoo Diets

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Horser01, 10 Jun 2020.

  1. Horser01

    Horser01 New Member

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    Does anyone know any of the menu / diet plans for animals in zoos? I know it depends on a great deal what is available locally, but so far I've only been able to find in depth nutritional requirements and I don't have the brains to convert that to specific vegetables. I know most zoos post on the animals page they eat lettuce, veggies, fruit, etc. but I'm looking for a more specific menu.

    For example I found one zoo's page said they feed a single giraffe: 15 lbs of hay, 12 lbs of pellets, 1 apple, half a banana, 2 onions, 1 yam, half a parsnip, and half a beet, per day.

    An Ostrich farm feeds each bird 5-6 kg of fresh forage or greens OR 2.5 kg of pellets and up to 1 kg (no more than 20% of the total diet) of fresh fruit or veggies, plus calcium supplements. (fresh veggies being mostly corn, carrots and beets at this particular farm).

    If anyone knows any specifics on what types of food a particular animal eats and in what quantities, I would be eternally grateful.
     
  2. Bib Fortuna

    Bib Fortuna Well-Known Member

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  3. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    It can also really depend on the zoo itself. For instance, with cheetahs, some places prefer a commercially made mix of meats that looks similar to sloppy joe meat. Others feed actual chunks of meat and whole carcasses. Some have set schedules, others rely a lot on donations from grocery stores and take what they get. Even with species like rabbits, some only feed a commercial kibble-type diet while others feed all fresh produce, or a mix of the two. With domestic rabbits it's ideal to rotate the forms of produce you give; the recommendations I've seen are usually at least 3 types of green a day, totaling at least 9 types through a week.
     
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  4. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    It varies widely between facilities, for most species there's no real set diet per day.

    If you're interested the AZA has a number of animal care manuals publicly available, with food sections detailing what type and amounts typically given and diets offered between different facilities.
     
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  5. WalkingAgnatha

    WalkingAgnatha Well-Known Member

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    Where could one find these care manuals?
     
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  6. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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  7. Horser01

    Horser01 New Member

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    Thank you for the links and comments. I realize the diets vary widely, I'm just looking for starting points. I've been working on a project for quite a while now on ways to help increase zoos economical and environmental standing by providing at least a portion of their dietary needs on zoo grounds. Either through dedicated gardens / fields or - more likely in facilities with limited means and space - replacing their existing decorative foliage with edible versions that look decorative, but also provide forage, herbs, veggies, etc. My goal is to increase my study to a 10-30% production rate for each species (depending on needs) where their diet or enrichment includes foliage, insects or fish. This would buffer their need for donations (albeit in a limited manner), while increasing the nutritional value of the animals food and possibly expanding their ability to be fed a diet closer to their natural ones. It would also open educational opportunities to guests. I've done the research on permaculture and hiding 'normal' plants in decorative beds. Hydroponics, aquaponics, etc, etc... But to calculate the percentages, I need to know which animals are capable of eating which things. And to what extent that is feasible.

    For example, I know that an adult male lowland gorilla eats 40-45 lbs of food per day. Of that, 4% is root vegetables, 7% fruit, 15% high-fiber primate biscuit, 17% vegetable, and 57% leafy green vegetables. So I can extrapolate that a single male gorilla eats (on avg), 1.8 lbs of root veggies, 3 lbs of fruit, 6.75 lbs of biscuits, 7.65 lbs of veggies, and 25.65 lbs of leafy greens.

    - Leafy greens take a lot less room to grow than root vegetables. So a zoo short on space would benefit more from concentrating on supplying their own leafy greens while purchasing the root veggies. Especially if they had edible tree and forage species where they didn't need dedicated growing areas but just fed the trimmings. But some species are poisonous to some animals and not others. So if you were to grow root veggies, yams would be better than potatoes, because potato vines are poisonous, while yams; one animal could eat the vines and another could eat the vegetable. This is where needing to know which things each animal can eat comes in.

    Sorry about the long windedness, but my point being... To make this proposal applicable to zoos in general, I would need to tailor the pitch to each zoo. What I would like to do, is say something like "You have 1 giraffe? 1,033 combined sq feet will give you all the veggie requirements you need per year on the current diet. If you reach out to the people posting that they have a crab apple and don't like the apples, point out that if they donate that one trees harvest that is a years supply for your one giraffe. Or If you install a crop box or something similar, it will take 8'x40' (320 sq'). It will provide enough fodder for all 3 of your elephants."

    I started out as just an "I'm bored" moment while playing a zoo game. To make it realistic started doing the math and incorporating it into the game. I was quite surprised how little area you actually need (in real life) to feed each one of those zoo animals individually. Obviously, 100% isn't feasible for most zoos. But 10-30%? So I'm curious what the requirements for other animals are. I'd like to possibly reach out to my local zoo about it once I get more data on it.
     
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  8. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    Depending on the zoo they do sometimes grow a notable portion of food on site. San Diego is a particularly good example, growing enough bamboo and eucalyptus to feed their pandas and koalas. Most zoos commonly use browse cut on zoo grounds whenever possible. Many also accept donations of fresh cut browse from outside sources, although it is carefully inspected first. The biggest problem with browse is that it basically can't be stored more than a few days at best before it wilts.
    Various insects are frequently cultured as well, such as mealworms and fruit flies. Sometimes aquatic invertebrates are as well. Most of these are easy to care for and require minimal effort, as compared to say raising rats or pigeons.
    Given the varied diets zoo animals have, I agree it would be quite difficult and probably impossible for a zoo to produce 100% of their animal's food, but I think your goal of even 10-30% would be easily attainable for most zoos.
     
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  9. Horser01

    Horser01 New Member

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    I did send an email to my local zoo asking if they'd be willing to share their diet plans with me, so we'll see if I get a response. :/
     
  10. Gomphothere

    Gomphothere Well-Known Member

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  11. natel12

    natel12 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of carnivorous animals are fed a mix of ground beef and horse
     
  12. Azamat Shackleford

    Azamat Shackleford Well-Known Member

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    Let's see what I can come up with that's straight-forward...

    Typically with some insectivorous mammals (aardvark, anteaters, echidna, aardwolf, etc), the main staple diet is a gruel-type mixture of insectivore diet and supplements, though live insects and other foods are also offered (fruits, veggies, etc.), though recipes and formulas seem to vary by facility.

    Vampire bats and other sanguinivorous animals (leeches including) are typically fed cow's blood or some other form, usually sourced from an abbatoir. With leeches of feeding vary; with the blood of livestock, the blood itself is filled in sausage casing, and the leeches go to town, while some leech keepers even allow the leeches to feast on their own arms.

    Frugivorous geckos are (and honestly, should be) fed a diet formulated just for mainly crested geckos, but are often fed to relatives and other fruit-eating geckos as well (other "rhac" geckos, day geckos, etc.). Repashy and Pangea are the most commonly used brands (and also nutritionally most appropriate). Other fruits and insects can also be supplemented.

    With other insectivorous animals (reptiles, birds, etc), typically live insects are used. In the U.S., the most popular insects used seem to be crickets, mealworms, and superworms, and less commonly used are Dubia roaches. Waxworms, hornworms, silkworms and Black soldier fly larvae are supplemented (waxworms are known to contain high fat levels). European collections tend to also use locusts as well (which are illegal due to importation laws in the United States, since they're notorious crop pests). Insects are often gutloaded (fed nutritious foods (usually veggies) a day or so before feeding them off to maximize nutrient content), and sometimes are dusted with a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement occasionally.

    Birds of prey (hawks, eagles, owls, etc.) typically are fed rodent prey, along with chicks and quail, though it varies between species. Some are also fed (either supplemented or as a staple) fish and other things as well, depending on species. There were prepared meat "sausages" formulated for raptors, but I haven't seen it commonly used (probably since whole prey is often preferred).

    Most snakes are fed rodents (depending on size; larger snakes will be fed either rabbits, poultry, or even young pigs) though some species will only eat other certain foods, such as fish (aquatic snakes, though some species can be converted to a rodent diet), worms, insects (including mooth and rough green snakes), and lizards (including vine snakes, often anoles or house geckos are used). Some species are picky, with a few preferring snails and/or even centipedes, and with king cobras some keepers prefer feeding them a snake-only diet (zoos typically transition snake-eating snakes to rodents; however, some private keepers are against this due to the king cobra's diet in the wild being mostly snakes).

    I'll definitely post more updates here and there; it's an interesting subject.