What’s for Dinner?

November 2, 2010 | Karyn Traphagen

NOTE: I’m temporarily working part-time in the Animal Department! I love wearing my official purple shirt. You never know what volunteering at the Museum will lead to.

If you think it is hard to figure out what to have for dinner at your house, imagine all the various critters at the Museum who want to eat. Preparing food for all the animals on exhibit and behind-the-scenes is a major task for the keepers and volunteers every day. Kristen recently wrote about the wolves diet, so I’m following up on the food theme and giving you a peak at what goes on in the Animal Department kitchen. I hope you enjoy this photo journal of some of the food preparation tasks for our animals.

With 5 refrigerators and 5 large freezers, we label them so everyone remembers what's inside.

The produce fridge has fruits and vegetables. The pink crate is full of sweet potatoes (we use LOTS of sweet potatoes).

Keeper Kimberly is chopping up some food for the animals. Some animals get food finely diced, others get chunks. Often we vary how the food is cut up for variation.

This is the sign on our Greens Fridge.

Each bin contains a different kind of lettuce or green. We have lots of variety to choose from. Each week the greens are purchased, washed, and meticulously stored between paper sheets in each bin. This helps keep them fresh all week.

This large chest freezer houses the grains and chow for many of the farmyard animals (sheep, goats, donkey, steer, duck, chicken, rabbits, pig). The blue and green buckets have lemur chow in them. We keep the opened bags in the freezer to prevent bugs or rodents from eating the food.

We use this scale to weigh out grains and chow.

We raise crickets to feed to our reptiles, chicken, and duck.

We breed superworms (nice & juicy)

We have an entire freezer devoted to mice and rats. I won't show the inside, but this is the sign on the outside. Snakes, alligators, and owls are some of the main beneficiaries of this fridge.

One of our snakes didn't eat his meal. We remove them after one day.

This snake did eat his mouse, so we have a nice empty rock. We carefully record everything that the snakes eat.

In additon to mice, some of our birds get BOP. What's BOP? Why, I'm glad you asked. It's Bird Of Prey diet. We keep it frozen and then pull out the appropriate amount each day. We make little balls of meat and usually hide supplements inside the meat.

The bear fridge has apples, oranges and unhusked corn. The bears eat dozens of pieces of fruit each day. They also eat sweet potatoes, nuts and bear chow.

Yum! The bears love all these nuts. They eat a bucket a day, so we need to store them in a large garbage pail.

Volunteer Elizabeth is working to prepare food. Notice the assortment of bowls. Each animal gets a bowl that is appropriate to their eating habits. See all those yellow and white sheets on the cabinet doors? Those are individual animal's diets. They list they amount and type of each food that should be prepared for the animal. Most animals get a little different diet every day!

Here is the top shelf of the prepared food fridge. The bowls are stacked up to fit them all in. The keepers can tell just by looking at the contents in each bowl which animal it belongs to!

The bottom of the prepared food fridge has bear bags, plastic containers for lemurs (and a few other animals) and mice sorted for the birds of prey and owls. Each mouse is weighed so that we have the right amount of meat for the birds.

All this food prep is worth it when you see how the animals appreciate the fine culinary preparations. Besides, you didn't think we would have an animal department post without some animal cuteness. These chinchillas are just so cute.

The food prep rooms have shelves to hold unopened bags of animal chow. Keeping track of all this food is a big job!

Yup, another cuteness photo. I love the little chinchilla hands holding that precious raisin (they each get one raisin included in their bowl of food each day).

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