It’s time for a new seasonal menu! A considerable part of a keeper’s job is preparing specialized, enriching diets for the animals in their care. For Northwest Trek grizzly bears, Hawthorne and Huckleberry, that means a whole new slate of delicious foods related to the season.
“In the fall, we offer the grizzly boys butternut and acorn squash,” explained keeper Carly. “We also make a special trail mix, which includes sunflower and walnut seeds, peanuts, shredded coconut, raisins, dried dates, figs, plums, and cranberries.”
But don’t worry- that’s not all. The five-year-old bears are preparing for their winter torpor naps and must pack on extra calories before their metabolisms slow down. The bears are currently eating 30 pounds of food a day. Over the summer and fall seasons, they’ll have each gained 70 pounds.
By the end of summer, Huckleberry weighed about 600 pounds, and Hawthorne weighed an estimated 700 pounds. That’s compared to Huckleberry’s 560 pounds and Hawthorne’s 650 pounds in April.
So, they need more than squash and trail mix to bulk up! They also enjoy corn, carrots, pears, peaches, and melons. And their favorite protein is salmon.
“They both prefer fruit over veggies, but for Hawthorne, fish is his favorite,” said Carly.
On the other hand, Huckleberry prefers to eat his fruit first before settling down with his mackerel or trout.
“Huckleberry likes to give new food a thorough ‘sniff test’ before chowing down,” said Carly. “Hawthorne usually has no problem just diving into his food.”
Keepers often place food like apples or fish in the bears’ pool to encourage their natural diving behaviors.
“It’s one of Huckleberry’s favorite hobbies!” said Carly.
Grizzly bears are also insectivorous, meaning they feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates.
Keeping in tune with their personalities, keepers recently offered the grizzlies some crickets in a brown paper bag. Hawthorne immediately shredded the paper and licked up all the crickets before they could hop away. Meanwhile, Huckleberry sat with his bag for a few minutes before making the smallest tear and letting most crickets leap away.
“Their interaction with the crickets perfectly represents their two differing personalities,” said Carly.
See the bears chomp on pumpkins
Another fun enrichment treat for the bears: pumpkins! Watch them chomp, stomp, and play with pumpkins during Northwest Trek’s annual Pumpkin Chomp & Stomp event Oct. 28-29.