ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Zookeepers at the BioPark say the new way they’re feeding mimics what their animals would do in the wild. But zoo-goers say they were surprised to see animal carcasses hanging from trees in the middle of the afternoon.
“This is the type of thing that we could easily put a carcass on, whether it be a goat or a rabbit or even a rat,” says Senior Zookeeper Valarie Chavez.
Chavez says they are using zip lines and bungee cords as apart of their new way of feeding some of the animals. “They’d actually have to work at it, and so they’d be able to pull chunks of it at a time, and it’s kind of like fighting back. They actually have to get their claws in there and sink their teeth in, and kind of mock like they’re killing it,” Chavez says.
The unique feeding technique is catching people’s attention.
“If it’s something that would happen naturally in the wild, I would think do it. If it’s something where you’re creating some false little excitement for the crowd, this has nothing to do with how they would naturally be, I would say don’t do it,” says Bob Sandoval.
Over the weekend, a viewer snapped a photo of a rabbit hanging in the Tasmanian Devil exhibit, saying some parents were concerned about their kids seeing the carcass.
“It needs to be age-appropriate, and I think people need to know ahead of time that’s it’s happening so they can make their own decision,” says Cindy Sandoval.
Chavez says the feedings typically draw a huge crowd, but they have gotten a few complaints. “There are the few that don’t care to see that and that’s understandable. We do have signs on all of the exhibits that have carcass feed or whole prey items in the exhibit,” Chavez says.
Chavez says they typically do the carcass feeds early in the morning, and feeding them this way stimulates them and keeps them more active. “They love it, it promotes natural instincts of wanting to catch things and take it down so that they can eat it,” Chavez says.
Zookeepers say they use the bungee cords for more than just feeding. Sometimes they will hang toys for the animals to play with.
BioPark officials say the animals they use for the feedings are humanely euthanized and they come from a vendor approved by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.