The Houston Zoo is kicking off our holiday fundraising campaign – the Gift of Grub — to help defray the costs of caring for our animals and provide everything we need to keep them healthy and happy in 2011! This is a fun, new blog series that will tell the story of exactly what it takes to feed our furry, finned and fanged friends here at the Houston Zoo.
In the commissary, besides all the produce we work with, we deal with lots of what’s known as feeder animals. In the wild, while some animals, called herbivores, feed only on vegetation, some also eat insects and other animals (omnivores), while other species exist exclusively on meat (carnivores). To maintain optimum health, providing feeder animals is necessary. It occurs in nature, so it needs to occur here at the Zoo, where we, along with the keepers and our vet team, are committed to ensuring the best diet for each animal’s specific needs.
Did you know we use 98,750 of rodents per year? We get mice and rats in different sizes, from 10 to 300 grams. Our large rodent order is delivered on Tuesday. These mice and rats are raised in a controlled environment and are disease free. We also obtain rabbits for are larger bird of prey, larger boas and pythons and at times some of our large cats.
Throughout the year the Zoo holds special events and during that time we also have goat carcasses. Most recently, at our Feast for the Beasts event, our African lions and our Komodo dragon, enjoyed this special meal.
We also use 18 million crickets, which also come in sizes from pinheads (newly hatched) to adult size crickets. Meerkats and reptiles thrive on them. Birds, lizards, slow loris, marmosets, tamarins and other small mammals also eat crickets…. but during the months of April, May, June and July our biggest users of crickets are the Houston toads (there will be a whole blog post coming soon on those!).Our crickets come from our supplier on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The delivery driver has made comments a few times of escaped crickets in the back of the truck!
Next time I will talk about more food items bought at the store that are used to supplement animal diets.
Written by Phyllis Pietrucha-Mays, Commissary Supervisor
We’re reaching out to all Zoo lovers to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation at www.houstonzoo.org/gift-of-grub. You can also donate easily via our CONTRIBUTE tab on Facebook! Email email@example.com for more information.
Our Meerkat Mob says Thank You!
Our thanks to Petco for the cricket chart