Hi, I’m Jen Devenport and I work in the Zoo Kitchen.
Preparing cuisine using only the season's freshest produce is a culinary trend for humans, but did you know, the animals at Busch Gardens Tampa also get to enjoy the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round?
Typically, during summer and fall seasonal foods are at their premium taste, nutritional content and usually larger in size.
Here's a sample of all the fresh fruit and veggies we prepare daily for our animals.
This is partly due to our semi-tropical location here in Florida. The seasonal summer fruits and vegetables we have in the Nutrition Center’s cooler are cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, grapes, green beans, figs, honeydew, mangoes, plums, squash, tomatoes, watermelon and zucchini.
This is me at work in the Zoo Kitchen. I have always had a love for animals and now I get to work with them every day.
A delicious and popular summer fruit amongst humans that almost all of our animals also like to eat is watermelon. Zoo keepers usually use this fruit as an enrichment item to give the zoo animals a special treat.
Watermelon is also a great source of Vitamin B and Lycopene, which provides the reddish-pink color on the inside of the melon.
At Busch Gardens' Lory Landing we have many lorikeets. For these small, colorful Australian birds, the Nutrition Center prepares a nectar mix that includes two seasonal fruits every day: cantaloupe and honeydew -- and watermelon when it is in season.
The watermelon adds more juice to their diet when added and it is rich in Vitamin C to support a healthy immune system.
Another animal that is fed melons are the Hippos. They can chomp an entire melon in their mouth and enjoy this fruit on hot summer days!
Corn on the cob is an item that many people enjoy at barbeques on occasion with family and friends, but did you know that many animals here eat corn every day?
The machine where we prepare the birds' nectar.
A lot of the foods that you enjoy eating in the summer, our animals do too. What are some of the summer fruits or vegetables you enjoy?
Photos by Katie McMichen