The top priority at Denver Zoo is the welfare of our animals – and a large part of this is maximizing choice, control, and challenges. As much as possible, we want to develop opportunities to display natural behaviors, including food.
‘Carcass feedings’ are a fundamental delicacy for each of the carnivores in our care at Denver Zoo. Feeding large sections or whole prey - is one of the ways animal care staff and nutritionists continually enrich our animals' lives and support their physical, mental, and social health. This also stimulates the natural tendencies found in the wild.
Feeding on large food items exercises jaw muscles, increases strength and extends foraging time. Natural feeding strategies are also encouraged and can help form bonds among our social carnivores, like lions.
Eating carcasses takes more time, energy, and work to eat and digest, rather than meat alone. This extra work has been scientifically shown to improve oral and digestive health, as well as muscle tone.