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How to feed 10,000 animals at a world-class zoo

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The animals at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium are like rock stars, and they eat like it.

They go through hundreds of tons of food each and every year.

Surprisingly, the animal nutrition team for feeding the 10,000 animals is actually pretty small. Still, every day they are here working hard to make sure each animal gets the right amount of food that fits their dietary needs.

Some, like elephants, are easy to feed. Others require a more complex diet.

Each animal has a computerized profile, allowing members of the animal nutrition team to work hand-in-hand with zookeepers to add supplements or decrease some of bulk around aging animals.

These teams get plenty of shipments in and even do some hunting for themselves.

We're getting ready for busy time to be like squirrels, collecting leaves off of trees and freezing them for use during winter months," said animal nutrition assistant Amanda Zolman.

And before you thin these animals will eat everything, think again.  Just like some in your family they have some picky eaters here.

"We have some pretty picky animals, believe me, a lot of people think, ‘they're animals, going to eat what you put in front of them.' No, they are like small children essentially, have their likes and dislikes," Zolman said.

But they go through plenty of food.

The zoo uses 35 tons of USDA meat, 130 tons of grain, 487 tons of hay and straw, 14 tons of carrots, and 35 tons of apples each year.