Animal Care 101 – Feeding Over 140 Animals Daily
We are often asked, “How do you feed so many animals?” The simple answer is, “With a lot of work from our entire ZoFo animal care team!” Our staff and volunteers all have a high standard of care for the residents at the sanctuary and we couldn’t do it without their commitment. But, just in case you want more, here is our long answer!
One of the most important considerations for feeding our animals is figuring out what is appropriate for each species AND each individual animal. Not only is our staff consistently researching what our animals need as far as their diets, we are constantly working with veterinarians to make sure each species and individual is getting the best care. For example, we know that our wallaby needs grass and plants primarily, however to ensure he is getting the nutrients he would naturally get in Australia, Surprise also needs a special grain made specifically for wallabies. Senior cat, Stitch, is on a special wet food diet specially created for cats with kidney problems. So, it not only takes a great deal of research to simply find out the basics of our residents’ diets, but continual updates and care checks to make the changes each individual requires.
How do we find all of this food? Again, research! We spend a lot of time shopping and ordering food from many different stores. You’ll often see our van around town picking up boxes and boxes of produce from Restaurant Depot, bagged and can food from Animal Supply, and bags upon bags of farm animal grain from Bennington Mercantile. There are also many speciality pet food stores from which we special order – it isn’t that common to find wallaby and camel grain at your local pet store!
Another important component is of course, making sure our animals are happy! Who doesn’t love dessert or a little splurge now and then? We love providing our animals with special treats, but always make sure that that treat is appropriate for that animal. For example, many people hear and believe that pigs can eat anything. But did you know, pigs really should not have any kind of bread, meat or dairy product? So while we’re pretty sure they’d love a big bowl of ice cream, our staff instead finds an equally exciting treat that is still healthy. Our pig residents love October, as it means they get large pumpkins to munch!
A final, crucial component to daily feeding is communication among the staff. As you can imagine, diets are constantly changing for the animals (e.g. adjusting amounts if an animal is gaining weight). In order to keep up with these changes, our team must be in constant communication. As an organization, we have systems in place to make communication as smooth as possible. For example, we have diet sheets for each animal, behavior sheets for each animal in which we record their weights, and weekly note updates that all of our staff and volunteers are required to read.
So, with a lot of learning, adjusting, and constant monitoring and communication, our staff and volunteers ensure that our animals are receiving the best diet care around!
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