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How To Feed a Wildlife Park
August 24, 2023

Ever wonder what it takes to feed an entire wildlife park? The keepers at Northwest Trek feed nearly 200 animals a day. It takes a specific science to prepare proper diets for all the different animals.

“Each animal has a balanced diet based on its species, age, and any health-related issues,” said Northwest Trek curator Marc Heinzman.

For example, the grizzly bears each eat 30 pounds of food daily during the summer. Their diet consists of fish, fruits, and leafy greens as they prepare for winter 2023’s torpor season.

“The bears need to put on extra weight leading up to winter when their metabolisms slow down, and they settle down for long naps,” explained Heinzman.

wolverine with meat in their mouth

The keepers weigh all the animals’ food to ensure they are getting the correct amount, including:

  • Wolves: 6 pounds per day
  • Wolverines: 2.5 pounds per day
  • Otters: 2.15 pounds per day
  • Beaver: 1.3 pounds per day
  • Gopher Snake: 17 grams twice per week

Another element all the keepers consider is what foods will support an animal’s physical and mental health.

“We want to ensure the animals can simulate the same natural behaviors they’d have in the wild,” said Heinzman.

That means animals are given whole prey in their diets. Reptiles, birds, and otters are fed full mice, rabbits, and fish. Carnivores like the bears and wolves are occasionally fed whole carcasses.

gray wolf eating meat

“It’s great for the animals to use their claws, teeth, and muscles to eat,” said Heinzman.

Keepers also get creative in presenting treats and enrichments for the animals to get them curious and engage in those natural behaviors, like finding food and using their brains.


See the animals in full eating action during our annual Feeding Frenzy event on Sept.2-4.

The animals at Northwest Trek will rip, chew, and devour their favorite foods (like carcasses) during Feeding Frenzy.

Schedule of Events:

Watch these animals chomp and munch at the times below

Sept. 2:

  • 11:30 am: Badgers
  • 3 pm: Gray wolves

Sept. 3:

  • 11:30 am: Wolverines
  • 1:30 pm: Grizzly Bears

Sept. 4:

  • 11:30 am: Otters
  • 1:30 pm: Cougar

barn owl eating a mouse

Each day from 11:30 am-2 pm, guests can tour the commissary kitchen where keepers prepare the animals’ diets. Guests can also practice their diet preparation skills in the Cheney Discovery Center daily from 11 am-5 pm, along with games and activities highlighting animal keepers’ work to care for the animals.