In the early morning hours, while many of us are fast asleep, the Animal Nutrition Team is busy preparing and delivering balanced and individual diets for over 2,000 animals at Walt Disney World Resort.
The job of an animal nutritionist and the Nutrition Team is quite involved as they work to assess the diet of each animal based on various data including weight, physiological stage of the animal, food sensitivities, animal health and food options available to prepare the diets, among others. Every animal has a diet sheet, but diets might be adjusted and supplements (like vitamins to humans) are added depending on the specific needs of the animal.
The Animal Nutrition Team works with partners around the world to continuously assess diet options and aid in research. The research data gathered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been used to help improve around 18 animal nutrition products regularly used by the zoo community today.
Some of the research is actually helping conserve endangered animals like the Puerto Rican Crested Toad that can be found at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Nutrition data and best practices in caring for the parents and tadpoles are gathered and noted for future generations. Then, twice a year, tadpoles are sent back to Puerto Rico to be released and continue increasing numbers in the wild.
You can learn more about animal nutrition from a member of our team on your next visit to Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.