September 27, 2023

This as-told-to essay is centered on a discussion with Maggie Kloza, the guide zoologist of mammals at the Dallas Zoo. This dialogue has been edited and condensed for clarity.

It is meant to get to 105 levels currently. That is not even the “feels like” temp—that’s the standard temp. Right now I’m doing the job with the tigers, and I looked up what the regular temp of Sumatra is. It’s, like, 85, tops. A large amount of folks are like, Oh, these are tropical cats—they’re applied to definitely incredibly hot temps. But it is a whole lot hotter below than it is where they’re from. And they’ve hardly ever been to Sumatra. It’s way previous their restrict. It is way past my limit, honestly.

On days like this, we love earning bloodsicles. We do it all the time. They like them. We make them whenever we have excess blood. A distributor provides our weight loss plans, which are especially produced for zoo carnivores. They occur in 5-pound tubes of meat. I slice them open in excess of a bowl and the blood just drains from it—it’s like the further blood you’d get when you have packaged steak. Rather a little bit comes out. Each and every cat receives 5 or 6 of these tubes, so there is a significant volume of blood.

It is a blend of horse meat and beef. Horse meat is essentially a ton leaner for them. I know a ton of people today are like, Ew, horse. But if you assume about it, lions consume zebra in the wild, and individuals are equine. Lately there was a bit of a scarcity of horse, so we started off making use of beef as effectively. But some of them turned their noses up at the beef. These guys are spoiled. They’ve grown up on horse meat. Then you provide them this unique type of meat and they are like, Oh, God, I don’t want that. They are a little bougie.

We accumulate Tupperware. We also have these modest blue cups that bugs get delivered to other animals in. They’re the best size for a nice minor snack. So I put the blood in distinctive containers and incorporate water to it. It freezes greater when you include water. Thick blood just does not freeze as effectively. We do have what we phone “chunk,” which are little chunks of meat that we add in there. It mixes it up so it is not dull and they are not finding just blood each individual solitary day. They may get a nice big meatball in there or one thing. We can also make other ice treats out of milk or rooster broth. But the tigers like blood the most. The lions are more open up to other items. They like milk, but blood appears to be the well-liked item all around below.

In our tiger creating, we have three distinctive freezers and fridges. We have just one significant fridge that we keep all of our meat in. We have a fridge for people today. There is in fact a signal on it: FOR People today ONLY. Then we have a significant freezer, like you’d have in your garage. We just pile the bloodsicles up on top rated of each other. I really do not truly locate it gross. Some people are carnivore people and some men and women are herbivore men and women. You know what you are receiving into if you get the job done with carnivores. Believe me, when I’m producing diets, I get blood all over my arms. We do get blood on our counters and things, but we clean up it every solitary day and check out not to make it appear like a massacre.

When it’s this warm, we check out to give bloodsicles just about every solitary working day to the cat that’s outside the house on habitat. It is a very good way to lure them above as we do our verify-in, due to the fact our habitat is 1 acre. It’s difficult to look at in on a cat that you can not see, which is in the bamboo or somewhere, so we like to reward them with a little something great and chilly. Also, like I stated, we increase drinking water to that, and so it’s a superior way to make confident that they are obtaining that hydration.

They are really intelligent. They know who we are. They know our uniform. They listen to our keys. They really see us before we ever see them. They may possibly not clearly show by themselves right absent, but I normally call their identify. They all know their names. It is in some cases truly tough to get the bloodsicle out of the plastic, so I operate it less than drinking water and then pop it open. Then I just toss it in the habitat. You are going to just see just one of them dash in excess of to it. It’s not like tiny young ones with popsicles the tigers really do not genuinely get it all more than on their own. They are dainty. They are very fantastic about not getting way too messy. Lions, on the other hand, get it all around by themselves.

Even while it is frozen, they know it is blood. They know the taste. Due to the fact we do keep their beef bloody, and they are like, I like this flavor. This seems strange, but we practice with it as well. We get blood in a squeeze bottle or a large syringe and use it as a address. Nowadays we experienced to vaccinate a person of them, and we squirted blood into her mouth to retain her continue to as I gave her a shot serious swift.

We by no means go in there with them, and so it’s all safeguarded make contact with. Proper now they think of us as their caretakers, like their kin. They know in which the food will come from. But we do comprehend, if we had been to go in there with them, they could see us as meat.

I have a joke I like to make when I’m tossing the bloodsicles to them. In some cases if a visitor arrives above and states, “Hey, what are you about to do?” I maintain it out and say, “You want a lick?”