Christmas dinners with a difference…

2019 12 PZ keeper Sam Gray with cassowary Alfie HR-1

Animals at Paignton Zoo will be getting their own festive dinners this Christmas – but you may not find them quite as appetising as your own…

So what’s on the menu? Well, the big cats could get a whole turkey, complete with feathers and entrails. Curator of Mammals Lisa Britton said: “It’s all good roughage, the bones, everything. It’s the sort of carcass they’d be eating in the wild.”

Ferocious carnivores tearing into meat may or may not remind you of your own Christmas lunch.

Meanwhile, Alfie Junior the Southern cassowary has a Christmas dinner, too – including vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, potato, sweet potato, carrot, beetroot and parsnip, all served cold. And the meat? Bought in young chickens of the sort falconers feed to birds of prey and owls in sanctuaries.

Keeper Sam Gray: “All the veg is steamed until soft, though he will eat raw carrot. We do cut the veg up, it doesn’t need to be too small, though, not like for some of the smaller birds. A cassowary can manage pretty large chunks as they might in the wild.”

Cassowaries are predominantly fruit eaters but in the wild will take small birds, mice, insects and carrion. The cassowary is one of the tallest and heaviest birds on the planet – and it has a kick like a velociraptor. Anyone refusing to eat their vegetables on Christmas Day might be persuaded by the fact that the world’s most dangerous bird loves its veg…

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