ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Chehaw wants visitors to be aware that feeding the zoo animals human food is not a good idea.
In a post on the zoo's Facebook page, Assistant Curator Samantha Sassone wrote about how several animals reacted poorly to being fed bread.
Sassone wrote that Tuesday morning, zoo staff "discovered bread slices thrown on top of the alligators. More troublesome, the meerkats left several piles of foul-smelling vomit in their nighthouse, all containing wads of bread. Marshmallows were also found in the monkey pool. There is no telling how many other animals received these "treats." I assume that whoever did this thinks they're doing something nice for the animals. They are wrong about that."
She went on to write that bread is not part of the diet for any of the zoo's animals. "With the alligators, who are carnivores, that bread is mildewing on the damp ground and fouling the water. There is a risk of other animals trying to reach the bread, like birds or small mammals, and they will likely get sick from it...or get eaten by an alligator."
In 2013, the zoo had a similar incident. A guest brought some bush branches into the petting zoo and fed them to the goats and miniature horses.
Sassone said they arrived the next morning to find several goats violently vomiting green fluid. For hours, Chloe, the zoo's largest goat, was laying on the ground panting and dehydrated. Fortunately, Chloe recovered.
Stripe, one of the zoo's miniature horses, died. Sassone wrote that the horse "already had some intestinal issues, and the introduction of a toxic plant was most likely too much for her body. As one of the keepers who helped remove Stripe's body from the enclosure while the other miniature horse screamed and tried to protect her fallen friend, I can tell you I felt a great deal of anger towards the well-intentioned ignorance that led to the situation."
If you have concerns about an animal's food or their health, park officials encourage you to ask the gift shop attendant to radio a zookeeper. Sassone said that the zookeepers love talking about the animals.
If you simply wish to feed an animal, the zoo has many opportunities to do so, with the appropriate food in a supervised setting, every weekend.
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