Daily Diets for the Animals

Sometimes Zoo Chef Yohn gets to be creative with food by making special treats for the animals, but on most days he spends his time slicing, dicing and weighing diets for each animal under the Zoo’s care. It may not be the most exciting part of his job, but it is one of the most important aspects of being the Zoo’s chef.

Chef Yohn begins his morning gathering everything he will need for the day’s meal prep. Food containers, cutting boards, measuring cups, knives and kitchen scales are his main necessities, and he’ll collect fruits, vegetables, grain and other food as needed as he goes along through each animal’s specific diet.

In the mornings, Chef Yohn prepares diets for herbivores and omnivores, and after lunch he handles carnivore diets. Even though Yohn has been a dedicated Zoo employee for nine years and Zoo Chef for more than two years, having a diet cheat sheet comes in handy. Each animal has a laminated spreadsheet of the amounts and weights of each food they can eat in a day. Yohn can visually see how much of a certain food each animal is getting by using kitchen scales. He has become a professional at getting the weights exactly perfect, ensuring each animal is getting every bite!

While the weights are the same every day, different food options will vary according to what is in stock. Plantains can be substituted for bananas, Yohn will use different types of citrus in meals, and leafy greens are switched up if the Horticulture department brings in fresh greens from the Animal Wellness garden! One thing always in stock in the Diet Kitchen: grapes! Most of the animals at the Zoo love grapes, especially the Red pandas!

If you haven’t toured the Animal Wellness campus and seen Chef Yohn putting in work in the Diet Kitchen, then take a glimpse into his day by watching our short video. New Animeals recipes are in the works, and 2018 will be an exciting year for animal food enrichment! Check back each month to see what we’re throwing down in the Diet Kitchen!