Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mornings of Meat!

IEAS start their mornings with something a little... messier than most others. When they arrive at the Nutritional Center at about 6:00 AM, 350 pounds of raw meat await them. This is the amount of meat that is used EACH and EVERY day at IEAS, and this is the meat that the IEAS staff will be heading outside to feed to the animals at about 7:00.

In the hour between the interns arrival and feeding, a big mess is made! The interns work as efficiently as possible to divide the meat, which is a specially formulated ground beef for big cats and contains 1/3 bone, 1/3 organ, and 1/3 muscle, into the accurate amounts for each resident of IEAS. These amounts range from 0.25 pounds to about 15 pounds. These numbers are constantly fluctuating with the felines' seasonal activity levels, weights, and appetites, so it takes a great deal of care and attention to make sure everyone gets exactly what they need!

Once the meat is divided up, medications and supplements are added. These range from chondroflex (for achy joints) to calcium (for bone strength). Missing Link is also added, which contains vitamins and other supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps.

Then, we head out to feed! Feeding time with big cats involves several important things: awareness, focus, teamwork, and above all, SAFETY! Cats are locked out of their houses before the house door is opened to place the food in. The door is locked, the lock is always double checked, and the cat's gate is raised to allow them inside to eat. Some of the felines eat right out of their feeding pans. Some, however, like to use the feeding pans as a post-breakfast toy, so they don't get a pan. Their food is placed directly onto the floor of their houses. This is what happens if one of these "no pan" cats gets a pan...

Immediately after diets preparation is complete, the Nutritional Center, which now inevitably has some blood on the tables and floor, is meticulously cleaned and sanitized to ensure health and safety. Morning food prep may be messy, but the mess doesn't last long and soon after feeding, you could walk in and never know that there had been such a morning!

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