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Lions, tigers, jaguars...and chicken

Posted by: Martin Ramirez, Curator

Lions, tigers and jaguars eating less red meat at the zoo? Who would have thought?! But if you think about it, carnivores in the wild will catch and eat the occasional fish or fowl to supplement their diet, so why not in a zoo?

All of the zoo's carnivores receive a commercially prepared diet that meets their nutritional needs. These diets consist of red meat and are fed most of the week. However, there are some benefits to eating whole chickens or turkeys once a week. The bones in uncooked fowl help keep their teeth clean and the animals welcome the variety. Chickens can be offered to the animals in interesting ways. They can be hidden in the exhibit or hung from a spot where the animal has to reach for it. By reducing the red meat our carnivores eat we're not only improving their overall health, we’re also helping the environment.

Researchers have determined that 2.5 times more oil is used in the production of red meat than with chicken. For example, by not eating red meat just one day a week, a person would conserve the equivalent amount of oil needed to drive 1,155 miles.

Woodland Park Zoo is always looking for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and every department at the zoo is doing their part. For more on how we are greening our operations, see our Green Zoo website.