goat tugs - SMThe Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s ten painted dog pups and their mom, “Imara,” received special enrichment in the form of a USDA-inspected goat carcass this morning in their public exhibit. Simulating a wild feeding increases the dogs’ mental and physical activity, provides nutritional benefits, and encourages natural sharing behavior unique to this species. Carcass feeding also provides guests with an opportunity to see some of the Zoo’s most active animals displaying their natural behaviors.

Other Zoos do carcass feedings, but this is a new enrichment activity for the Cincinnati Zoo’s carnivores. The carcasses, typically goats or pigs, are ordered by the Zoo’s nutritionist specifically for this purpose and have no prior affiliation to the Zoo’s animal collection. A carcass is prepared by first removing the head and innards to eliminate risk of disease, and then by freezing it overnight to kill any parasites.

“African painted dogs are carnivores just like us! Even though our meals look a little different, hamburgers and chicken tenders start out as whole animal carcasses. We are all part of the natural food web,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

signLions and vultures are next in line for carcass feedings. When carcasses are present, temporary signage near the exhibit will alert guests so they may choose whether to view it.