What Goes Into Serving Breakfast At Smithsonian's National Zoo
By: Armando Trull
April 15, 2013
Residents of the National Zoo's Great Ape House have a particular predisposition towards honey.
Every morning, Christy Stout and two other colleagues deliver breakfast to nearly 2,000 animals at Smithsonian's National Zoo.
Crystal, the gray wolf who's actually white, is about to eat breakfast.
"Today they got rabbits, they'll also get knucklebones, and dog
food," Stout says. "They are just as they would hunt
them except they are not alive. That way they get the fiber from the
fur as well as the calcium from the bones."
the food is prepped at the commissary, a huge warehouse with hundreds
of bins. Everything from lettuce, to crickets to live rats are on the
menu. Two nutritionists on staff keep track of the animals' dietary
The natural food diet is augmented with dry pellets that look like dog
food. Stout says the pellets are colored like fruit to make them
visually appealing to the animals. Some food is collected from Rock
"This is a pile of rotting logs, our anteaters and
some of our bears would actually love to break those logs apart and get
some of the yummy goodies inside," Stout says.
Not all of the food is purely for subsistence. At the Great Ape
House, they drop off ketchup, mustard and honey, which serve a secondary
"Honey is one of their favorite things," says biologist
Lorrie Thompson. "We save honey for really good treats for training or
injections. That's their reward."
As they drop off 150 pounds of squid and assorted fish for the seals,
Stout says that neither sequestration, snowmaggeddon nor Thanksgiving
can stop these food runs, because the animals can't pick up their mobile
and order pizza.
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