Posts Tagged ‘Feast for the Beasts’

Zena the ZooKeeper

by | June 26th, 2014

zena-the-zookeeperHey Kids! It’s summer time and you know what that means? We finally get to celebrate Feast for the Beasts at the Zoo!  For those of you who are still bummed that our first Feast for the Beast event got rained out this past Spring, now is the time to celebrate! For those of you who might not know about Feast for the Beasts, let me tell you all about it!

Taking place every spring and summer, this event is special because you, (yes, you!) get to bring fruits and vegetables to the Zoo for our elephants to eat. And let me tell you, they definitely enjoy their yummy treats. Feast for the Beasts1Our four African elephants eat around 300 lbs. of food a day- that’s 1,200 lbs. every single day! So we ZooKeepers definitely look forward to getting help with their feeding on these special days. On Feast for the Beasts days (when it’s not RAINING in the Spring, that is), Zoo visitors get to spread all the fruits and veggies they brought with them around the elephant exhibit.  After that’s done, the visitors leave the exhibit and the elephants are let in to gobble up all those delicious, nutritious veggie goodies. It’s way cool to watch!  BUT, when it rains the ground inside the elephant exhibit gets really muddy and – the elephants LOVE mud – but those muddy conditions prohibit us from letting Zoo guests come inside the elephant exhibit to spread around the goodies. This time, there is ZERO chance of rain, so come on down and bring some veggies or fruit!

What kinds of fruits and vegetables to bring for the elephants, you ask? Elephants just LOVE carrots, apples, ripe bananas, kiwi, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, whole cabbage heads, celery stalks, sweet potato, pineapple, pomegranate, and oranges. An elephant can eat an entire watermelon in one mouthful – just look at the picture here from a past years’ Feast for the Beasts event! Oh, and if you do bring something to eat for the elephants, you’ll get a free ride ticket. Nothing ends a great day at the Zoo better than some fun in Adventure Landing.

_DSC0179Aside from the awesome elephant experience, there will be animal feedings all over the Zoo. Want to see the tigers, lemurs, or even alligators get fed? Well, here’s your chance. Check out the schedule below and plan your day with us. Can’t wait for you to join us on July 26th for Feast for the Beasts at Oakland Zoo!

Zena the ZooKeeper

My First “Feasts for the Beasts” Experience…

by | August 12th, 2013

blog3In all my years working at Oakland Zoo I have never attended one of our events in which food is donated to the animals. When the Zoo asked if I was interested in writing a blog for one of these bi-annual events (that have become a tradition over the last decade) I was game. The event – now a tradition – is called “Feast for the Beasts.”

“Feast for the Beasts” is an event that not only allows people to donate fresh produce to the animals but also gives them the opportunity to learn about the creatures that reside here at the Zoo. At first, the event was intended for Zoo members only. However, it became so popular that the Zoo decided to turn it into a public event. People bring bananas, grapes, kiwi, apples, cabbage, lettuce, and other fresh produce for the animals to snack on.

Baboons climbed on poles to get their donated food while meerkats poked their heads into enrichment bags. And while the alligators consumed dead rats, the otters enjoyed their dead fish meal. As the Zoo keepers fed the animals, docents were on hand providing information about those animals. Watching the animals eat their food was fun but it was nothing compared to what happened at the Elephant Exhibit.

The biggest highlight of “Feast for the Beasts” was the feeding of theelephants. Twice a year guests come to the Zoo with their produce to receive a ticket to enter the Elephant Exhibit and spread out food. I was one of the many people who received a ticket. The keepers allowed us the pleasure of placing food virtually everywhere around the elephant habitat. Some people left the food in plain sight (i.e., on top of the rocks) or out of sight (i.e., inside a tube). We turned the dirt/grass area into a luscious, colorful buffet.  After leaving the produce in the exhibit, we waited outside the area for the elephants to arrive.

Waiting in anticipation for the elephants to arrive, I didn’t even bother to think about what was on everybody’s minds as we waited for the elephants to enter. As I looked at the food that we placed inside the exhibit I kept thinking and thinking that this was going to be cool.

Then the elephants finally arrived and wasted no time getting their snack on. Once they spotted something (watermelons, carrots, apples, you name it) the elephants would quickly go in for their beloved sweet treats. Some would eat the food in its entirety while others would munch on it. The elephants also wrapped their trunks around a sponge-like object shaped like a sandbag and they turned over a tub to find more hidden food. No one could stop the beasts from enjoying all of that produce.

We were ecstatic to see the elephants munching on our produce. One person said, “May the melon be with you,” another person said, “Enjoy your fruit salad.” These behemoths ate their food like there’s no tomorrow. And to think all of this happened because the Zoo invited us to be involved in this festive event.

“Feast for the Beasts” is a great experience. It gave me the chance to view the animal feedings as well as become a part of the process in feeding the animals. I was happy to be part of this event and have the experience it provided me.  I hope that the Zoo keeps the “Feast for the Beasts” tradition for many years to come.

Elephants Love Trees, Pumpkins, & Produce

by | February 25th, 2011

Finally, the holidays are over and the Christmas trees (and pumpkins !) are coming to an end. This year we had two companies that generously donated and dropped off over four-hundred trees combined. This operation is a win-win

Donna chews on a Fraser Fir, her favorite! Photo by author.

situation for all as it saves the tree companies from having to deal with the leftovers and provides the zoo with lots of fun enrichment for the animals. After the animals are done with the trees they are hauled off in our green waste dumpster and re-used for wood chips.  We were able to be a little pickier this year as to what type of trees we accepted as the main animals that use the trees

M'Dunda savors the moment. Photo by author.

are the elephants and they have grown to be quite picky with their menu. We took about two-hundred small pine trees from Brent’s Christmas Trees, and over two-hundred Noble Firs from Simonous Quality Christmas Trees. The elephants prefer the Noble and Fraser Firs to the Douglas Fir. Maybe they like the strong fragrance of the previous two better? I don’t know for sure, I didn’t try them myself. They enjoy eating the bark off of the trunk and then stripping the needles off the branches. The keepers started off giving each elephant at least five trees a day, but if your mom gave you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday wouldn’t you get tired of it too? So they don’t go after the trees with the same vigor they did in the beginning but there are only fifty or so left to feed out, thank goodness. Sometimes a little honey or jelly smeared on the branches helps! You’ll see the trees hanging as food or a scratching post in the elephant and giraffe exhibits, as a home for a bird in one of our aviaries, or as a treat hiding place for many of the other animals in the zoo, but only for a couple more weeks. So hurry and come visit us, especially while the sun is still shining!

Donna wraps her trunk around Osh. Photo by author.

Come and join us for our Feast for the Beasts daytime event on Saturday, March 26. The public is invited to donate produce to the animals. The first 250 people through the door get to place their produce inside the elephant exhibit before the hungry herd arrives. Come see how an elephant munches an entire watermelon. It’s definitely something kids love to see. Feast for the Beasts begins at 9:00am.

Yummy, Yummy, in the Elephants Tummy

by | April 5th, 2010

Donna feasting while visitors watch, photo by author

Feast for the Beasts was a big success yet again, with four hungry elephants, and what looked like four hundred eager visitors ready to work. While the elephants watched from afar, two large groups of zoo visitors, one at a time, trickled into the enclosure. They were then explained the guidelines, and had fifteen minutes to scatter and hide the produce they provided around the elephants habitat far and wide. It was amazing to watch everybody split off into different areas of the yard. The smiles on the young children’s faces were priceless as they got to choose what fruit or veggie they were going to hide and where they were going to hide it. Under a rock? In the pool? Buried in the grass? Produce was everywhere! Amongst the favorite of the elephants were several melons, pumpkins, and pineapples.

A Dad and his son choose which yummy item to hide, photo by author

The best part about this day is that the elephants know what is happening because as soon as the keepers shift them, they race as fast as they can up the path into the exhibit, and seek out the best produce. Each elephant split off into different directions shoving trunkfuls of yummies into their mouths as fast as possible. There was even a little rivalry between Osh and M’Dunda. This spread kept them occupied for a couple of hours, and the keepers fed them a little less produce throughout the rest of the day so they wouldn’t have upset tummies.

The keepers and staff would like to send a huge thank you to all the visitors who came out, donating their time and groceries, to give the elephants a very special and exciting day. We would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped make this day a success, whether by sorting produce, collecting tickets, or helping guide our guests. Our next Feast for the Beast event is Saturday, July 17.

Watch an Elephant Munch a Watermelon

by | February 24th, 2010

African Elephant Enjoys a Watermelon. Photo credit Nancy Filippi

I remember arriving to work bright and early on a Saturday morning. It was 8:00am, caffeine hadn’t even taken affect, yet the parking lot of the Oakland Zoo was packing up with people. I scanned the lot and smiled as I watched children who could barely hold their excitement start to line up. Brown bags of groceries were accompanied by parents drinking Starbucks, giddy girls, and babbling boys.

Guests Donating Produce to Feast for the Beasts Event

Guests Donating Produce to Feast for the Beasts. Photo by Adam Fink

They were at the Zoo early for Feast for the Beasts: A day when the public can donate produce to the Oakland Zoo animals. Feast for the Beasts makes me laugh, because it is so much fun to be a staff member and people watch. The first 250 guests through the gate get a ticket, some might say it’s a “Golden Ticket,” and actually get to go inside the elephant exhibit, before the hungry herd, to place their produce in nooks and crannies throughout the enclosure. It’s a special moment to see kids with tomatoes, watermelons, apples, carrots, grapes, and cucumbers. The children really get a kick out of hiding treats. After the produce is all in place and the public has cleared the exhibit, the pacaderms go after their grub. You can actually see an elephant munch down an entire watermelon in a couple of bites. The crowd roars and kids cheer in delight, during this popular produce event.

Little Girl Placing a Carrot into the Elephant Exhibit

Little Girl Places a Carrot into the Elephant Exhibit for Feast for the Beasts. Photo by Amber Frisbie

If you have never experienced Feast for the Beasts, mark your calendar now for 9:00am Saturday, March 27. And, remember to arrive early! The first 250 guests will receive “golden tickets” for the elephant exhibit. Watch special animal feedings throughout the day, see live entertainment, and participate in family friendly activities. The Oakland Zoo welcomes produce donations for all of our animals. This event is included with general admission. For more information, check out our website www.oaklandzoo.org.

Guests Wait for the Elephants to Come Out During Feast for the Beasts Event. Photo by Margaret Rousser