Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Please Feed The Animals! Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed A Zoo by Helaine Becker

It's feeding time at the zoo--and you're in charge.

If only you had a recipe book.... But wait! You do!

10-15 live crayfish
1 oz. live earthworms
1/3 oz. live mealworms
1 tsp. live fly pupae
Mix all ingredients and serve immediately.

And don't let your diners dillydally, or their dinner will crawl away!

Feeding the, um, wildly disparate animals in a zoo requires a wide range of foodstuffs. Some denizens of the zoo are omnivores (bears, raccoons), like humans, and will eat almost anything that doesn't eat them. Some herbivores (elephants) are the most extreme of vegans, and some (lions and tigers) subsist solely on meat.

Some zoo dwellers are so picky they make the average kid look like a gourmand.  Koalas can eat only eucalyptus leaves (fresh-picked, please), and pandas prefer only bamboo, making them persnickety diners who expect imported food by express delivery across large land masses.

Some, on the other hand, dote on less than dainty fare. Elephants can make do with hay and many types of leaves, 660 pounds of them daily, mind you, although they thrive on choice fruits and veggies in the mix. Trouble is, elephants have a tendency to grow portly in captivity and often have to be put on low-calorie foods like celery, lettuce, and carrots that human dieters know all too well. One plump pachyderm, Shaunzi, takes the title as The Biggest Loser, shedding 1,110 pounds.

Some animals lose the mood for food when it is too easy to get, forcing zookeepers to create recipes which include ways to hide, bury, and disguise their dinners about their enclosures to make them work for their supper. Parrots prefer locked boxes that require multiple steps--locks to pick, screws to turn, and bolts to throw--to whet their appetites. And many denizens of zoos are nocturnal, needing their noshes in the wee hours, midnight to dawn. One orphaned swamp wallaby required round-the-clock babying in a special pouch with frequent feedings of wallaby formula.

Feeding every creature--from chow-hounds like the hippo to mico-diners such as the extinct-in-the-wild Partula snails, whose pureed trail mix has to be smeared on the sides of their tanks--requires a special sort of zookeeper, one with deep knowledge of animal physiology and nutrition, not to mention animal psychology, and in her just published Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo (OwlKids Books, 2016), author Helaine Becker dishes out fun and fact-filled information from zoological sites all over the world, from San Diego Zoo to Taronga Zoo in Australia and the Tiergarten Schonbrunn in Austria. Artist Kathy Boake's digital illustrations are full of kid-pleasing sight gags--nocturnal animals raiding the fridge at midnight and gorillas gobbling primate-pleasing cookies dusted with dried ants--with a special section which features a real zoo nutritionist during his work day.

This is definitely a first purchase for libraries and classrooms, with its kid-friendly double-page spreads and fascinating critter facts. With a quiz to match feedings to animals, a glossary, an index, and advice for the care and feeding of all of us earth creatures, this one has it all for young animal lovers.  The various reviewers love this one, partly for the pun opportunities--"a browsable animal book," "a surprisingly nourishing treat," "Kiddos desperate to learn more about the zoo will scarf this down."--and this is definitely a new nonfiction book which will feed children's curiosity and hone their appetites for more fascinating animal science.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home