The Zoo Diet

I am proud to say that at the Cincinnati Zoo, just like the zoo in your town, we have the very best food available. By miles. In fact, we go around the globe, sparing no expense, to procure the very freshest whole foods, anywhere – for our animals. No zoo animals eat junk food. Nor do they get weird, processed foods from a box that contains all sorts of impossible to comprehend additives.

When I come in on Saturdays to work with the zoo keepers, I am always impressed at the variety and actual beauty of the food we prepare for our animals. It looks like I imagine a snazzy farmer’s market must look in places like the Hamptons or Carmel – colorful, fresh, whole foods.

In all, at the Cincinnati Zoo we spend over $1 million every year on our food bill. And you wouldn’t believe the things we bring in for our animals. Every day we fly fig and ficus branches in from San Diego to feed our Sumatran rhinos – by far our most expensive animals to feed. Our Florida manatees are our second most expensive eaters, each chowing through 100 pounds of romaine lettuce and kale per day. And of course elephants have mammoth appetites. Each of our four Asian elephants eats about 250 pounds of food every day, including timothy hay, alfalfa, grains, vegetables and fruits.

Listen to the 90-Second Naturalist “Zoo Diet” podcast.