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Feeding a wildlife park | The Eatonville Post

In the summer, the keepers prepare about 35 kilos of food every day for all the bears, cats, gray wolves and red foxes.  In winter that is reduced to about 20 pounds.

In the summer, the keepers prepare about 35 kilos of food every day for all the bears, cats, gray wolves and red foxes. In winter that is reduced to about 20 pounds.
Courtesy of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

The keepers at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park feed nearly 200 animals a day. It takes specific science to prepare the right food for all different animals. Each animal’s diet is balanced based on species, age and health-related issues. We asked the keepers about some of the most fascinating food facts that came to mind.

“The black bears and grizzly bears have quite drastic changes in their diet depending on the season,” says keeper Carly. “In the summer they eat a wide variety of fish, fruits and leafy vegetables as they prepare to slow their metabolism for their winter naps. In winter they only eat a few kilos of omnivorous food every day.”

In the summer, the keepers prepare about 35 kilos of food every day for all the bears, cats, gray wolves and red foxes. In winter that is reduced to about 20 pounds.

Carly says the cougar and bobcat boys love their fish all year round.

“The cougar prefers salmon, while the bobcats love trout,” says keeper Carly.

She added that keepers offer diluted goat’s milk as a training reward for all cats – and it’s a big hit.

Courtesy of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

In the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area, keepers provide 5,000 pounds of feed for two weeks to 113 animals (American bison, elk, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, mountain goats, caribou, bighorn sheep and a trumpeter swan)

Keeper Wendi says many guests find it interesting how many different types of chows are available for all the different animals.

“We have a rodent food, bear food, insectivore food, omnivore food, high fiber herbivore food, cricket food, leafeater food and insectivore food,” Wendi said.

In the 435-acre Free-Roaming Area, keepers provide 5,000 pounds of feed for two weeks to 113 animals (American bison, elk, Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, mountain goats, caribou, bighorn sheep and a trumpeter swan). The food is a nutritionally balanced, starch and phosphorus controlled diet for herbivores managed under human care.

In addition, many of the animals eat leaves (edible vegetation such as twigs, branches and leaves). The moose can eat up to 60 kilos of leaves in one day.

When creating meals, keepers consider which foods will support an animal’s physical and mental health, to encourage the same natural behavior as in the wild. They also become creative in presenting treats and enrichments to the animals to get them curious and participating in natural behaviors such as finding food.

This means that animals get whole prey in their diet. As part of their meals, the reptiles, birds and otters are fed whole mice, rabbits and fish. Carnivores such as bears and wolves are occasionally fed whole carcasses.

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