Ever wondered how our Zoo animals are fed and who prepares their diets?
Here at Nashville Zoo, we have an entire team dedicated to animal diets and nutrition. This team works at the commissary, a large kitchen located behind the scenes at Nashville Zoo, where over 200 diets are prepared every day. The commissary is a busy and dynamic environment constantly changing. The commissary is a near-centralized operation, meaning all of the food for all our animals at Nashville Zoo is weighed, purchased, stored and inventoried by our commissary staff.
Our commissary staff starts the day at 6 am. The diets being prepared are typically for the following day since most of our animals eat before 7 am. A ‘diet book’ containing detailed instructions like amount, chopping size, etc. for each diet is followed and diets are usually completed around 10 am. Once the morning prep is done, all workstations are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized and returned diet containers are cleaned for the next day.
Afternoons are spent preparing even more diets like boiling eggs, bagging dry food and prepping grain. During this time, the commissary team conducts regular inventory checks ensuring they will not unexpectedly run out of important diet needs. Accepting and placing deliveries also take place at this time.
Commissary manager Rise Pankow said, “I enjoy the fast pace, ever changing and challenging diets and all that goes along with them. The commissary is central to the keeper’s day so we hear all about the comings and goings which is fun in and of itself. It is a fun and rewarding environment to be in.”
Just like people, animals need a balanced diet containing nutrients, fluids, minerals and vitamins. Proper nutrition gives animals the strength to grow, develop, reproduce and fight off any infections. A proper diet is a key part of the successful care for our animals here at Nashville Zoo.
Fun Fact: Our Zoo’s commissary staff has calculated that they use approximately 3,000 pounds of food each week! (not including hay or browse)
Whether you’re available for a day or are looking for a long-term volunteer opportunity – you can make a valuable contribution to the Zoo’s volunteer team!
Nashville Zoo relies on your support to continue providing extraordinary animal care and education programs for the community, as well as our critical conservation initiatives.