Valentine’s Day Animeals

Love is in the air at the Virginia Zoo! In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Chef Yohn prepared a tasty, yet nutritious meal for a whole family of Yellow-backed duikers and two literal “love” birds – the ostriches. The best part about this meal? Humans can eat it, too!

The entree for this day of romance is a big bowl of butternut squash soup. This meal is simple to make, and perfect for animals of all types. It’s soft enough that animals with dental issues can eat it, and meets the daily fruit, greens and vegetable requirements, so animals with any diet can easily consume it and receive their daily nutrients. This meal satisfies the 500 grams of daily vegetable intake for the duikers, and the 600 grams of nutrition needed three times a week for ostriches.

One-year-old duiker, Deci, was immediately intrigued by the soup and began chomping away. Once she was finished with her meal, ostriches Gobbles and Jack took their turns stuffing their faces, and ultimately making a mess!

Butter “Nuts Over You” Squash Soup Recipe


• 1 butternut squash

• 1/4 zucchini

• 1/4 cup vegetable broth


Step 1: Peel the squash.

Step 2: Cut the squash into chunks, and remove the seeds.

Step 3: Boil or steam the squash for 40 minutes.

Step 4: Mash the squash using a masher.

Step 5: Add vegetable broth to the mashed squash and mix together.

Step 6: Cut zucchini into small julienne strips.

Step 7: Place the zucchini on top of the soup as garnish.

Step 8: Eat up!

Dessert is definitely the best part of any Valentine’s Day dinner. Chef Yohn did not disappoint with his creative Strawberry Bouquet, which was served as a special treat to new duiker mom, Dottie. According to her Keepers, strawberries seem to be one of Dottie’s favorite things to eat, so she immediately fell in love with this sweet treat.

Strawberry bouquet RECIPE


• 12 whole strawberries

• 1 pineapple (for parts)


Step 1: Cut the crown off of the pineapple and one half inch slice off of the top of the pineapple.

Step 2: Cut off the green tops of the strawberries.

Step 3: Using the pineapple crown, push each strawberry onto a pointed crown leaf.

Step 4: Cut a flower shape out of the slice of pineapple.

Step 5: Place pineapple flower onto bouquet.

Step 6: Bon Appétit!

In case you’re wondering what we do with the leftover food from our recipes, we actually keep everything! All of our fruits and vegetables are stored in special containers in refrigerators and are immediately divvied up into other meals for the animals.

We hope you enjoyed this lovely Valentine’s Day meal. Stay tuned for the next Animeals!