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San Diego Zoo growing its own food for animals in quest to be self-sufficient

Safari Park Browse
Posted at 4:43 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 19:56:11-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — The large animals that roam the large open space habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park eat a lot of food.

It turns out, the Zoo has its own farmers who grow most of that food, making the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park one of the few zoos in the United States to be self-sufficient when it comes to produce for the animals.

“It’s all about choice and control with their diet, so they have the ability to choose what they want seat, to have variety, which is the spice of life, and ultimately support their nutrition in as complete a way as we can," said Greg Porter, the Zoo's horitculture manager.

The zoo has a 2-acre farm located across the street from the Safari Park in the San Pascual Valley. That farm produces 9,000 pounds of browse (the name for the plants eaten by the animals) each week.

A variety of plants and trees are grown, chopped down, then trucked to the Safari Park to be given to browsing animals, such as rhinos and giraffe.

"It’s this really multi-faceted approach to wildlife care that isn’t just about the numbers on a dietary spreadsheet, but really about the experience that it brings to the table," Porter said.