Written by: on April 5, 2021 @ 8:00 am

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Zoo Lover’s Day
April 8th

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Blank Park Zoo – Des Moines, Iowa

The Kitchens of Zoos – otherwise known as Commissaries – are some of the busiest kitchens in the world and serve a VERY demanding clientele!

Ever had to cook a dinner for a large number of guests? And if some are vegetarian?  Maybe some need low sodium?  Some are on a raw food diet?  Only paleo for others?  Lovingly catering to hundreds of different species’ exact needs is second nature at the major zoos of the world.  Feeding the amazing animals in zoo collections is truly a 24/7 job!  Animals take no holidays and preparing food for hundreds of species at a time usually requires preparation day and night, not to mention enormous freezer and storage capacity.  Plus, ALL the food is 100% restaurant grade, the same as you get at your favorite dining spot!

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Zoo de Barcelona – Aviary’s Kitchen

A Zoo Commissary is run with precision, receiving shipments by night and preparing enormous quantities of fresh food by day.  One single elephant in the Cleveland Zoo, for example, eats 100 to 400 pounds of food each day.  Because animals are precious and many are endangered, they are fed with constant attention to their nutritional needs and their overall health.  Food in zoo commissaries is restaurant grade, but it is also prepped with the same attention to hygiene and cleanliness as any restaurant.  Cutting corners on any animal’s food, whether it is a Lowland Gorilla or a Desert Jerboa, could have huge consequences for the animal, and therefore cutting corners or stretching the food budget in any way is just not done.  The Cleveland Zoo splashes out one million dollars every year to feed their treasured residents!

Keepers at the San Diego Zoo (and every major zoo) are fiercely dedicated to their charges, and so every day in San Diego, meals are carefully prepped for 800 different species, 3,000 animals in total.  Food, whether it be fruit, insect, hay, or a whole carcass, is often left in the enclosure for the animal to forage as they please.  On a very special day, like a birthday or holiday, sometimes the beloved animals are directed to special treats made just for them.  From a watermelon “cake” for a tortoise to frozen “shrimpsicles” for big cats, watching healthy, happy animals devour their treats is surely something that makes every zookeeper’s day!  Why not treat yourself this Zoo Day, and watch some happy noshing animals for yourself? 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Zola the pygmy hippo calf turned 1 and enjoyed her birthday “cake” at the Lowry Park Zoo. (Photo Credit: Lowry Park Zoo)

If you’re a fan of zoo animals like we are, check out some of our zoo animal related at-home experiments! Communicate like a whale with echolocation, rattle like a snake, or even hibernate like a bear! See links below for lesson plans and more!

Echolocation: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/EOTD_Echolocation_Lesson.pdf

Snake Rattle: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/EOTD_Snake_Rattle_Lesson.pdf

Hibernation Den: https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/Edible_Hibernation_Den.pdf

Article Sources:

A 50 year old Tortoise birthday party:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIYabM4IqUQ

Big Cats cooling off:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlwCG7r4saw

Christmas Treats at the Zoo:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omJ_izb9puA

Halloween Pumpkins:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWwaqMyc3PQ

And of course, Valentine’s Day:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuQURtxiuuI

How the Zoo Commissary works in Cincinnati:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyHytMwDjzs

Zoo Commissary in San Diego:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeEUViBbvpo

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