Animal Weight Watchers

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Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about jobs, and the blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

 Last Thursday, the interns met with Dr. Mike Schlegel and Dr. Katie Kerr. Dr. Schlegel is the Director of Nutritional Services and Dr. Kerr is an Associate Nutritionist. They are responsible for creating diets to give to the forage warehouse to later be given to the animals at the Zoo. Interns spent the day in the classroom as well as throughout different areas in the Zoo, learning more about animal nutrition.

The day started in the education classroom as Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Kerr discussed their career paths and also their daily job tasks. Interns took notes as Dr. Schlegel talked about his road to becoming the Director of Nutritional Services. He received a degree in Animal Production from Pennsylvania State University before getting both his Master’s and Doctorate in Ruminant Nutrition from Michigan State University. Dr. Schlegel then took on a number of jobs and research positions before ending up at the San Diego Zoo.

The day started in the education classroom as Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Kerr discussed their career paths and also their daily job tasks. Interns took notes as Dr. Schlegel talked about his road to becoming the Director of Nutritional Services. He received a degree in Animal Production from Pennsylvania State University before getting both his Master’s and Doctorate in Ruminant Nutrition from Michigan State University. Dr. Schlegel then took on a number of jobs and research positions before ending up at the San Diego Zoo.

Pictured above are Dr. Schlegel and the interns on their way to the Galápagos tortoise exhibit. Dr. Schlegel is the Director of Nutritional Services. His main job is supervising his team in creating and changing diets. He also evaluates body condition of the animals, communicates with other zoos about diet information, and formulates diets for reproduction, lactation, and hand rearing. Dr. Schlegel’s job is extremely important to the well being of the animals and the productivity of the Zoo.

Pictured above are Dr. Schlegel and the interns on their way to the Galápagos tortoise exhibit. Dr. Schlegel is the Director of Nutritional Services. His main job is supervising his team in creating and changing diets. He also evaluates body condition of the animals, communicates with other zoos about diet information, and formulates diets for reproduction, lactation, and hand rearing. Dr. Schlegel’s job is extremely important to the well being of the animals and the productivity of the Zoo.

You can find a number of these hibiscus flowers all around the Zoo. These vibrant plants come in a multitude of different colors, including red, white, yellow and orange. On our way to the flamingo exhibit, Dr. Schlegel stated that almost all of the hibiscus plants grown in the Zoo are used for food. He also noted that the tortoises especially love eating the flowers!

You can find a number of these hibiscus flowers all around the Zoo. These vibrant plants come in a multitude of different colors, including red, white, yellow and orange. On our way to the flamingo exhibit, Dr. Schlegel stated that almost all of the hibiscus plants grown in the Zoo are used for food. He also noted that the tortoises especially love eating the flowers!

The Galapagos tortoises are an excellent example of the importance of diet changes. Dr. Schlegel stated that about two years ago, the tortoises’ diet was changed from high calories to high protein. This had many positive impacts on the tortoises’ health. Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Kerr take pride in finding different ways to help the animals.

The Galapagos tortoises are an excellent example of the importance of diet changes. Dr. Schlegel stated that about two years ago, the tortoises’ diet was changed from high calories to high protein. This had many positive impacts on the tortoises’ health. Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Kerr take pride in finding different ways to help the animals.

Pictured above is fellow intern, Riley posing in front of the flamingo exhibit. The Zoo is home to a huge flamboyance of Caribbean flamingos. These awesome birds are known for their long necks, skinny legs and deep pink-orange color. Dr. Schlegel and the nutritional services department have created a pellet food to replace their typical diet. This is not only less expensive for the Zoo to produce, but also makes it possible to know exactly what the flamingos are eating.

Pictured above is fellow intern, Riley posing in front of the flamingo exhibit. The Zoo is home to a huge flamboyance of Caribbean flamingos. These awesome birds are known for their long necks, skinny legs and deep pink-orange color. Dr. Schlegel and the nutritional services department have created a pellet food to replace their typical diet. This is not only less expensive for the Zoo to produce, but also makes it possible to know exactly what the flamingos are eating.

In the wild, flamingos get their color from their natural diets of algae and shrimp. Dr. Schlegel and the rest of his team have replicated this by infusing their food pellets with carotenoid pigments. Carotenoids are the same things that make carrots orange, bell peppers red, and spinach green! The pigment used at the Zoo, called canthaxanthin, promotes good health and provides the flamingos in the Zoo with their bright color.

In the wild, flamingos get their color from their natural diets of algae and shrimp. Dr. Schlegel and the rest of his team have replicated this by infusing their food pellets with carotenoid pigments. Carotenoids are the same things that make carrots orange, bell peppers red, and spinach green! The pigment used at the Zoo, called canthaxanthin, promotes good health and provides the flamingos in the Zoo with their bright color.

When we visited the Hippo Trail, Dr. Schlegel taught us some important facts that contribute to the dietary needs of the pygmy hippopotamuses. I learned that pygmy hippos, like a few other animal species, have stomachs with multiple chambers. Dr. Schlegel also added that this adaptation makes pygmy hippos capable of digesting high fiber food in the wild. Dr. Schlegel and his team have to take facts like these into account when creating and adjusting animal diets. When we visited the Hippo Trail, Dr. Schlegel taught us some important facts that contribute to the dietary needs of the pygmy hippopotamuses. I learned that pygmy hippos, like a few other animal species, have stomachs with multiple chambers. Dr. Schlegel also added that this adaptation makes pygmy hippos capable of digesting hig

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