Diets and Nutrition

As a not-for-profit, non tax-supported entity, the Dakota Zoo relies on admissions, memberships, donations and the sale of animals to other institutions for the bulk of our funding. Your visit to the Dakota Zoo helps us feed our more than 500 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Our “grocery bill” for animal feed and care totals more than $75,000 a year. And what a shopping list! Here are a few facts and figures about the foods our wild residents enjoy.

Did you know?

  • The Zoo consistently researches and collaborates with other zoo professionals to ensure each animal has the highest quality and most nutritious diet for their species specific needs.  

  • That each of our tigers eats as much as 10 pounds of specially mixed ground beef every day. That’s a $10,000 yearly dinner tab for our two big cats.

  • That one full grown grizzly bear can easily polish off over 20 pounds of grapes, apples, dog chow, meat, pears, squash, watermelon, & lettuce per day. Thank goodness much of our produce is generously donated by Dan’s Supermarket.

  • That the primates eat primarily Mazuri Leaf Eater Biscuits, with a smattering of fruits and vegetables thrown in for variety. This special diet costs up to $350 per primate, per year, and we feed seven different species of primates!

  • Tarantulas, geckos, snakes and lizards prefer to feed on live farm raised crickets. We go through about $750 worth of the little critters each year.

  • That many of our carnivores and raptors require prey items (frozen rats and mice) for optimum health. The Zoo spends over $8,000 per year on these items. 

  • That our dedicated staff of Zookeepers are always seeking ways to enrich our animals lives by changing the configuration of perches and other exhibit features, adding boomer balls or other enrichment toys to their environment and by presenting them with challenging opportunities such as the opportunity to figure out a puzzle feeder to obtain their favorite treats, in addition to their normal diet.