Feeding the Animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Feeding the Animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo


I’m Mike Maslanka. I’m the head of the Department
of Animal Nutrition here at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and we’re in the commissary In the commissary our role is to make all
the diets for all the animals in the park every day. A balanced diet contributes to our overall health and a balanced diet contributes to the Zoo animals’
overall health Where would go to the doctor, they go to the veterinarian.
Our mom makes us eat our leafy greens, We make them eat their leafy greens. All of our produce is restuarant grade. And there is quite a variety of it. That’s
everything from the regular stand-by things like apples and
carrots and sweet potatoes to seasonal fruits that we might be able to get. We’re not talking about seconds. We’re not talking
about anything that we wouldn’t buy at the grocery store ourselves. So if it’s not good enough for us to consume, then we don’t
include it in the diets for the animals in the park. We’re currently feeding 2000 animals Some 400 species Basically we’re responsible for delivering
the diets throughout the park all day. Once the diets are loaded onto our vehicles They end up going out of the park and are delivered
to the individual animal houses. The keepers picked those diets up, take them back into their buildings and distribute
them on exhibit for the animals to come out and then forage. When we’re trying to determine what to feed an animal, We’re looking at the animals natural foraging
strategy, we’re looking at what it consumes in its natural
environment and we’re also looking at how we might be
able to best match that in the Zoo. When we provide a variety of greens for the gorillas, it is not only that the standard leafy greens that
you might might find the the grocery store whether that be romaine or iceberg lettuce, whatever the case may be, It’s also kale and collard greens and dandelion greens. So we see those animals forging in the morning what we’re actually seeing is the exhibiting of some of their natural behaviors as well as meeting their nutrient needs at the same time As an example of the role that nutrition plays in animal heath We had received Nikki the famous spectacled bear into our collection. But when he came in he was about 200
pounds overweight What we did as the nutrition staff was try to pull together a diet, very simialr to what we’d do with humans, in order to get that significant amount of
weight off of that animal. And over time, with strict adherence to that
diet, Nikki began to lose weight and ended up at a condition that we would expect for spectacle bear of his age and maturity. Nikki is doing great he has been introduced
to Billy Jean, a female spectacle bear. And it is sort of the culmination of the success
story in that he not only has lost weight but we’re hoping
that he becomes a reproductive spectacle bear and that he has offspring at the Zoo. Once all the deliveries are done, everybody ends up
coming back to the commissary and working ahead on diet preparation on a variety of different
fronts, so that by the end of the day, we have a complete set of diets for the next day. 365 days a year that happens. Animals eat all the time and our main mission is to provide those diets every day of the year

21 thoughts on “Feeding the Animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

  1. When i go to the zoo, the only excited animals I see are people. The wild life in the zoos is literally exhausted. I enjoyed my time at the zoo, but I didn't like how the animals were depressed. I think we need to look at new architecture to see if we can build more "open" and habitat like zoos rather than scraping 2 or 3 things together and calling it natural habitat.

  2. Im kinda a ahole lmao i worked at a zoo well i was in highschool but i also am a yearly hunter and fisher lmao

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