Sing along with us! On the First Day of Grub, your zoo gift will help to feed… Darwin the Cassowary! (Who needs a partridge in a pear tree, when you’ve got a bird that can eat a pear in one gulp!?)
Darwin weighs in at 110 pounds and eats 11 pounds of food daily. His diet consists of a wide variety of fruit (strawberries are his favorite), vegetables, and a special dry pellet diet, that smells and looks a little like guinea pig food! That’s over 4000 pounds of food a year, about the weight of a fully grown male elephant!
Darwin doesn’t just eat a TON (or two!) of food, he can eat very large pieces of fruit as well. He doesn’t chew or break up his food very often; he just tips his head back and swallows the food whole. Check him out:
Due to their impressive eating talents, cassowaries in the wild are known as a keynote species in their native rainforests. These birds are the only known animals who can distribute the seeds of over 70 different kinds of trees whose fruit is too large to be swallowed by any other animal.
Not only that, but there are 80 species of plants whose seeds have such a high toxicity that only the cassowary can eat and distribute these fruits! Cassowaries are aided in this by the relatively shortest and fastest digestive system in the bird world, a powerful liver, and a very unique set of stomach enzymes.
This super fast digestion means that very often, fruit will pass through Darwin’s system before being fully digested. Cassowaries practice coprophagic behavior…let’s just say they recycle the undigested pieces of food. Waste not, want not!
To see just how quickly Darwin can eat, you must watch this nail-biting video of a peach eating contest between Darwin and his keepers. It may not end the way you would guess!
Give the Gift of Grub this holiday season to help provide tasty meals for Darwin and all of the animals at the Houston Zoo! Between now and December 31, TXU Energy has generously agreed to match all donations, up to $25,000 total, so your gift could go TWICE as far. That means you could help provide TWICE the peaches for Darwin!