Food for thought
Tuesday 15 July 2008
Imagine trying to put a tonne of bananas and apples into your shopping trolley every week
For some people this doesn’t bear thinking about, but at ZSL London Zoo this figure is just a small order included in the Zoos annual food supply list announced this week.
Thirteen tonnes of carrots and four tonnes of eggs could be the yearly food supply for a small country…but these whopping figures actually make up part of the Zoos annual food order.
More than 600 different species of animals including gorillas, giraffes and hippos are fed an array of different foods including cabbages, tomatoes, fish and grapes.
Zootrition, a sophisticated computer programme, helps Zookeepers create a diet which is equivalent to what the animals would be eating in the wild. It provides them with a varied diet full of the highest quality natural foods.
But the meals aren’t just handed to the animals on a plate; it forms vital enrichment for them. Zoo keepers spend hours making sure the animals have to work for their food just like they would in the wild.
The Zoo’s impressive cuisine was given the thumbs up by chef Gordon Ramsay who recently came to film for his television programme The F Word which will be aired tonight (Tuesday) at 9pm on Channel 4.
— ENDS —
Notes to editors
Enrichment is the word that describes the approaches and principles adopted to improve the wellbeing of the animals in our care. Animal care staff have been enriching the lives of animals for as long as there have been zoos and zookeepers. In the 1930s, a study was carried out at ZSL London Zoo on a group of hamadryas baboons, it showed that when greater thought was applied to animals’ accommodation needs it had a profound effect on the behaviours displayed. Today, at both ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, we have thousands of animals from hundreds of species. Caring for such a great diversity of animals is undoubtedly challenging as we aim to maintain the collection in accordance with their natural behaviours. As a result you will see puzzle feeders, physically challenging feeding poles, climbing apparatus, variable substrates on enclosure floors, differing food types, novel objects to encourage exploration and play and scented herbs and plants, all of which attempt to allow the animals to behave as they would in their natural surroundings.These often innovative methods are constantly being developed by ZSL staff, behavioural research students and colleagues in other organisations. We aim to carry on extending the boundaries and continue to ensure that enrichment is integral to normal daily husbandry practice.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. The Society runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in some 45 countries worldwide
Press Officer, Zoological Society of London