What if you not only had to prepare 60 meals a day—that’s almost 22,000 per year—but also had to chart every item that was eaten, not eaten, or even buried, as well as cross-reference that with the weather and the time of day?
That’s what we do! An animal’s food consumption can be a great indicator of its well-being, so each meal is carefully tracked and recorded. For instance, what if Lurch the turkey vulture, didn’t eat much today? Well, if there has been a change in the weather, it might just be normal. If not, it might mean he needs veterinary care.
Our animals eat a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods—from fruits and vegetables from the supermarket to meats purchased from a wildlife-food specialist—along with nutritional supplements to make up for the micronutrients they would get in their wild diets. We vary their meals because, just like us, variety keeps it interesting. New foods are also a source of behavioral enrichment. Each new item may be thoroughly examined, smelled and perhaps even rolled in before it will be eaten.
We network with other wildlife facilities to compare notes and get ideas to improve our nutrition program. We grow some of our own vegetables and greens in our organic garden, and the willow trees on the property provide leaves and bark which are are like candy to some of our leaf-eaters.