Feeding a Zoo!

You might think feeding a zoo is easy, especially after you have been doing it for 26 years, but we can let you know a lot of planning and preparation goes into our animals diets!

With over 97 species of animals and birds that reside at Wildlife Habitat, there are some interesting food requirements which need to be provided and catered for. Carnivores, omnivores, frugivores, insectivores, foliavores, nectavores, combinations of the above and others all need to be considered.

Food preparation and supply is a time consuming and expensive portion of having a large animal collection. Individual needs for each species is carefully assessed and reassessed on an ongoing basis.

Foods are provided to ensure the best nutrition options for our collection but to also engender interest in foraging and mental stimulation. This means we provide food for nutritional needs but also as a form of enrichment.

The majority of our food preparation is done by our International Volunteers, it can take 4 people 3 hours to cut up all the necessary items.

Throughout the day our keepers distribute the food on feeding tours and provide supplementary meals for our kangaroos and wallabies before and after opening hours.

Blue tongue lizard food bowl
Blue tongue lizard food bowl

This delicious plate of food was prepared for our Blue Tongue lizards, and was received and devoured in short time!


Enrichment for animals in captivity is an important aspect of not only considering the nutritional needs of our collection but the opportunity to forage, nest, manipulate, think, hunt etc etc.

It can be as simple as providing live fish or insects for animals to hunt/forage for in their own time, provide fruiting or flowering branches in enclosures, planting in enclosures, or even moving plates around.

For some of our foliavore species, such as Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos and koalas, keepers are required to cut fresh “browse” regularly.

Koalas require fresh leaves or “browse” on a daily basis. Eating between 400-500g of leaves per day, a significant amount of branches of different species of eucalypt are provided per koala. We have a gum plantation on site and also, in conjunction with local landowners, have a plantation on a nearby property to provide our koalas with the species specific eucalypt diet they require.

Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos have a little more diversity in their diet in as far as the species and types of food they consume, and keepers will collect fresh browse every second day. These tree kangaroos are locally endemic and as such, natural tree species are relatively easy to acquire.

Wildlife Habitat have a great community connection and a strong relationship with many local landholders who allow us to cut and collect food from private property.

Browse is aptly named for the opportunity for the animals to be provided with a food source they can “browse” through and may choose to consume based on species, new or old growth, flowers, bark, seeds or fruits.

At times some parts of the plants will be more favoured over others based on the individual animal’s ability to be aware of current nutritional requirement needs.

Feeding a zoo - Fruit Mix, Bettong Bowl and a Wallaby Plate
Feeding a zoo – Fruit Mix, Bettong Bowl and a Wallaby Plate

Feeding a zoo in a week requires….

  • 50kg of fish
  • 50kg of roo mince
  • 60kg of seed
  • 320kg of macropod pellets
  • 3,000 crickets
  • 5,000 meal worms
  • 60,000 fly pupae (that is a community service right there!)
  • 60kg of fresh corn
  • 140kg of sweet potato
  • 100kg of apples and pears
  • 70kg each of rockmelon, honeydew melon and pawpaw
  • 20kg of grapes (unless they are $70 a box, then we might only get 10kg!!)

…………………………….and that is not everything!

Learn more from Clare about the preparation involved or join our YOUR Wildlife Habitat private tour for a peek into our wildlife ‘kitchen’.


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