January 19, 2021

Denver ZOOtrition


As you know by now, nutrition is one of the most important (and expensive) facets of Denver Zoo operations. With the support of nearly 5,500 donors from around the country, you helped us raise over $500,000 to support our animals’ essential dietary needs, during a year when we needed it most. Your tremendous—and in some cases, life-saving—generosity continues to support the dedicated care our 3,000+ animals need to thrive.

This incredible show of support ensures that Denver Zoo can continue to go the extra mile—customizing every animal’s diet individually to meet their unique nutrient, wellness, enrichment and behavioral needs.

Rudy, Lisu, Saba and friends continue to flourish in their specialized meal plans. See below for updates on how each of our these beloved “special menu” animals have benefited from your generosity.

Rudy the Black Rhino

Rudy | As you may recall, Rudy is Denver Zoo’s most expensive eater! Because of his iron storage disease, our resident black rhino receives a special kind of leafy browse flown in from around the country, especially for him. Thanks to your support, we have enough funding to provide Rudy with his special blend of browse throughout 2021!

Lisu, photo by zookeeper Erik Bowker

Lisu | Lisu is our clouded leopard who developed an allergy to meat—a real problem for an obligate carnivore! Because of the dedication from her keepers, veterinarians and our nutritionists, Lisu is now at a healthy weight and is full of energy! With your support, we are able to continue providing Lisu with her healthy dose of venison complimented by diet-essential supplements.

Saba | Saba is living proof that a specialized diet can save your life. After she was diagnosed with diabetes, our Nutrition and Veterinary teams worked together to design a delicious diet consisting of low-sugar and low-carb items to reduce any blood-sugar spikes. This includes carrots, cherries, blueberries and mealworms, which are high in fiber! Saba’s individualized diet can cost around $6,000 a year, but thanks to your generosity, we can comfortably and confidently care for Saba to ensure she not only survives—but thrives.

Danger | We recently shared that Danger, our 9-year-old Prevost’s squirrel, struggles with a kidney disease that affects his ability to process proteins—causing rapid weight loss and other serious health problems. Our Nutrition Team discovered that frozen coconut is high in fat, low in protein and perfect for Danger’s dietary needs. Frozen coconut does come at a premium price, though. Fortunately, thanks to your support, we will have no problem providing Danger with the frozen coconut that his kidneys crave.


Asian elephants | The award for the biggest appetite at Denver Zoo goes to our five Asian elephants: Chuck, Jake, Bodhi, Billy and Groucho. Their grocery list includes items such as celery, sweet potatoes, and pallets of hay, all totaling around $1,500 A WEEK! With the outpouring of support received throughout our ZOOtrition campaign, we can feasibly foot the grocery bill for our five big fellas.

african wild dog full body

African Carnivores | You may remember that group meals play an important role in strengthening social bonds and pack dynamics among our African carnivores. These family gatherings can cost nearly $3,000 a week for our 11 African lions, and around $233 a week for our African wild dogs. That totals nearly $40,000 A YEAR! Thanks to our generous donor community, we can continue to happily encourage our African carnivores to come together for dinner all throughout the New Year.

Just like our lions and wild dogs, we thrive when surrounded and supported by those we love, and who love us. Thank you for being part of our wonderful donor family.


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