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Zoo News

Zoo News

Jun 4, 2012


William M. Beecherl Animal Nutrition Center Ribbon Cutting – June 13

DALLAS – June 4, 2012 – The Dallas Zoo announces the official opening of the William M. Beecherl Animal Nutrition Center on Wednesday, June 13 at 8:30 a.m.  Thanks to a large bequest from the late William M. Beecherl and a generous grant from The Eugene McDermott Foundation, the 7,900 square foot nutrition center will increase food production for the animals and save money through more efficient processes.  The William M. Beecherl Animal Nutrition Center at the Dallas Zoo enables the nutrition staff to plan and prepare daily menus to accommodate the increase in animals that are cared for at the Zoo.

Since 2007, the number of diets at the Zoo has increased by 30 percent totaling more than 400 species of animals and more than 2,000 mouths every day.  In addition to four new elephants and 12 giraffes that came to the Zoo when the Giants of the Savanna opened in 2009, the Zoo also added 100 birds with SOAR, A Festival of Flight presented by Kimberly-Clark Corporation.  Each animal’s weight and body condition is regularly monitored and then a menu is developed based on the results.  Diet modifications require exact measurements and the Animal Nutrition Center houses scales to weigh food to the 100th of a gram.

“The Animal Nutrition Center plays a critical role in supporting the health and well-being of the animals under our care at the Dallas Zoo,” said Gregg Hudson, executive director and CEO of Dallas Zoo Management, Inc.  “We are excited to have a more expansive, state-of-the-art facility in which to prepare and provide highly nutritious meals for our animals.”

The Dallas Zoo is one of only 14 zoos in the country with a full-time nutritionist on staff in Kerri Slifka.  “We feed carnivores, herbivores and omnivores and among them are babies, expectant and nursing mothers and senior citizens,” said Slifka.  “The animals all receive restaurant-quality food; like humans, they like to have new and different foods every day.  Some are even picky eaters, so the proper ratio of protein, carbs and sugars is crucial to their overall nutritional health.”

Features of the Animal Nutrition Center:

  • Freezer/cooler space and dry storage area are at least twice as large as in the former facility.
  • Double-decker racks allow staff to stack pallets off the floor and quadruple the number of bagged feeds that can be stored.
  • New equipment enables staff to lift a 2,000-pound pallet 6 feet in the air and      slide it onto racks.
  • Thaw room for frozen meat, fish and prey items, keeping them at appropriate      temperatures but separated from produce and other foods.
  • Wash room includes a floor sink and dishwasher so staff can clean and sanitize      food containers efficiently.
  • Enclosed loading dock protects staff and goods during daily deliveries.
  • Small, edible plant garden in the back provides enrichment for the animals.


About the Dallas Zoo:  The Dallas Zoo, an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, is the largest zoological experience in Texas featuring a 106-acre park, thousands of animals, and an education department that offers programs for all ages. The official airline of the Dallas Zoo is American Airlines. The Zoo is located at 650 S. R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35 at Marsalis). Admission is $12 for ages 12-64, $9 for ages 3-11 and 65+, and free for ages 2 and younger and Dallas Zoological Society (DZS) members. The Zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, download the free iPhone app, visit, or call 469.554.7500.