Animeals for the Tigers and Siamangs

Virginia Zoo Chef Yohn’s job is to slice, dice, peel, chop, cook, mash and prepare the meals of all of the animals at the Zoo, but why stop there? The animals receive enrichment to stimulate their senses and behaviors, and Yohn’s yummy recipes help do just that, while maintaining their usual nutrients and dietary needs.

Each animal species, and even individual animals, have their own dietary requirements here at the zoo. A carnivore’s diet, such as the lions, tigers and bears, will be based on meat or fish. An herbivore’s diet, such as tapirs, giraffes and bison, will consist solely of fruits, vegetables or plant matter. Omnivore species like siamangs, various bird species and Red pandas, will get a mix of both plant matter and meat, insects or fish. Each animal at the zoo has a diet developed specifically by our veterinary team to provide the nutrients and calories they need to thrive and be healthy.

This week the Zoo Chef got creative with a sweet and spicy Siamang appetizer – which people can eat, too! All of the ingredients are what you would find on the siamang’s daily diet sheet. Bali, the adult male siamang, requires somewhat softer food, so the fruits and boiled potatoes can be easily mashed.


Siamang stuffed peppers (Feeds 4)


• 4 green bell peppers

• 1/2 papaya

• 1 apple

• 1 sweet potato

• 1 carrot

• 1 banana


Step 1: Boil the sweet potato to soften it.

Step 2: Chop up the carrot along with banana and sweet potato.

Step 3: Blend the carrot, sweet potato and banana together to make a thick mash.

Step 4: Cut the tops off of the peppers (set aside) and remove the seeds and cores out of each.

Step 5: Cut the apple into thin slices.

Step 6: Dice the papaya into medium size chunks.

Step 7: Fill each pepper about 3/4 full with the blended mash.

Step 8: Stick slices of apple and chunks of papaya down into the mash.

Step 9: Place the pepper tops back on each stuffed pepper.

Step 10: Eat!


Yohn also crafted a couple of extra-large “cubcakes” for the Zoo’s celebration of the Malayan tiger cubs Stubbley and Osceola’s first birthday party, which was held on Saturday, January 14, 2017. Each cake contains the typical amount of ground meat one tiger cub would receive in a day and the smelt fish is a special treat!


• 7.5 pounds of Zoo recommended Feline diet raw ground meat

• 1 raw short beef rib

• 5-6 whole smelt fish (for garnish)


Step 1: Flatten out a large meat patty using a portion of the ground meat. This is the “cake’s” base.

Step 2: Make another meat patty, but make it smaller than the first. This will be the second “cake” layer.

Step 3: Make a small meat patty as the top layer of the “cake”.

Step 4: Make a hole through the top of the “cake” and slowly push the short beef rib into the hole, making the rib look like a candle.

Step 5: Garnish with smelt fish!

Step 6: Repeat for the second tiger cub!

Step 7: Watch the cubs enjoy their birthday meal!

Stay tuned for more yummy Animeal Recipes!