According to Stacy Kyles, the commissary supervisor for the Oakland Zoo, it’s only the best for these animals. The zoo chef goes through 10 tons of the freshest meat and produce per month serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to more than 600 animals.
“They eat way better than we do.”
On this week’s episode of Milk Street Radio, Kyles illustrates what it takes to feed a zoo. It’s a lot more complicated than one might think–especially when you’re dealing with some of the world’s pickiest eaters, from watermelon-licking lions to smoothie-guzzling primates. Don’t miss the interview, and get an extended look at our conversation from the excerpts below.
When the giraffes are feeling sick, zookeepers will hide their medicine in crunchy peanut butter and sugar-free strawberry jelly on wheat bread sandwiches.
The chimpanzees love smoothies and their cinnamon raisin bagels toasted.
The tigers will only eat bunnies if their fur is white.
The hornbill birds like their blueberries fresh, not frozen.
Wolves don’t stop at just the leg. They prefer to eat calves, lambs or pigs whole.
Baboons prefer to forage for their own food. The zookeepers have to hide their meals all over the exhibit.
The squirrel monkeys love papaya as long as its from Hawaii.
On a hot summer day, you might find the lions playing with a frozen watermelon. When it breaks open, they’ll lick the insides like it's a popsicle!
Photos provided by Oakland Zoo, Andrew Lincoln, Gage Zamrzla, Steve Goodall, Steven Gotz, Ari Wid, Tatiana Popova and Webitect.