Gift of Grub: Eating Like a Bird… Not!

Practically every guest who comes to the Houston Zoo to visit our animals has at least heard the notion of “eating like a bird.” The overwhelming majority of birds are much lighter than they initially appear because of their lightweight skeletons, air sacs throughout the body, and feathers; as such, they tend to not eat as much as a mammal of similar size would be expected to eat.

However, there is an exception to be found with every rule.

This is Darwin, our 5-year old male Double-wattled Cassowary. These birds are actually some of the largest in the world, dwarfed only by the Ostrich. They live in the rainforests of Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea where their diet mainly consists of fruit. In this video, our Cassowary is getting a small assortment of fruit including apple, orange, banana, pear, grape and cantaloupe.

However, the amount of food shown here doesn’t begin to give an idea of how much food these birds will really eat: Darwin is fed several times daily, and can easily eat 8-10lbs of fruit, greens and pellets in the course of a day!

As you can see, Darwin has absolutely no problem eating very large pieces of fruit! This trait is crucial to the survival of their native rainforests — cassowaries eat large amounts of fruit and then disperse the seeds throughout the forest (seeds have a high germination rate in the digestive tracks of these animals). This makes these animals a “Keystone Species, ” meaning that they have a disproportionate impact on their environment — in this case, a positive one.  Several species of fruit trees rely on cassowaries, and their method of seed-dispersal is used by even more. They are completely dependent on cassowaries… and their appetites.

Pretty much destroys the notion of “eating like a bird,” doesn’t it?

Written by Jack Pine, Bird Keeper

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Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, it's boyfriend material. ... See MoreSee Less


Sets up a surprise sloth encounter as a birthday present for Simone Biles. You might think his shirt is made out of cotton. Turns out, its boyfriend material.


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Can anyone do this?


Where is the sloth's exhibit located within the zoo?

I'm not sure who is the cutest- the sloth, Simone, her boyfriend or SMG!!!

Christopher Vavrecka 😍 this is what I want for my birthday

And that is Curly- the best sloth in the world!

Erica Gunter when we going to see the giraffes?? 😍

JasonSara Pipkin, I do have a membership next time you want to go to Houston. 😉

Chris Roach, since Chelsea loves sloths.

Jason! I want an encounter with Succotash for my upcoming bday!!

I signed my wife up back in December. She gets her sloth encounter in May and is very excited!!

Julia Tompkins you and Simone have met the same sloth

I like the way the sloth looks right at the camera and poses for the picture.

what a cute picture... that sloth sure did pose for it too 😂😂

Glynis Henry we could have seen her there if we went today. i'm sad now, i love her!

Maria Diaz you could do this for Jenn!

Why is the red panda sold out forever in advance 😩 or is it just not really an encounter

Coming to the zoo this Saturday. Can not wait!

Cameron Caylor Robyn Davis Deddens apparently we can pay to meet a sloth. If you two care about my happiness WHAT SO EVER, you’ll make this happen.

Melissa Nitsche - we held a sloth & baby in Cartegena while on vacation when we lived in Panama City, Panana

Ashley Janitz Montalvo I knew there was a sloth at the Houston zoo!

We met Curly shortly after he came to Houston Zoo! So glad he's still alive and well!

Amanda Leigh Ramirez Even better! Let's chat when you get back from all your time out of the office.

Janet Roper Gratkowski, Laci is in good company with her sloth-love! 😂😂

Sloth says, “Wow, I’m usually too slow to photo bomb. Cool!”

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Spring break is over and it's back to the grind, so here's something relaxing. Enjoy watching our giraffes eat lettuce during our 11 a.m. giraffe feeding! ... See MoreSee Less



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Adam Thornton we should go do this!!

What a way to relax during lunch! The giraffes are so graceful!!

Just went two months ago planing to go again !

One of my favorite things to do when we go to the zoo!

Please tell me it won't be as crowded as Sunday if we come during the week

One of my favorite parts of the zoo.

How fun ... I love going to the zoo

My favorite....Giraffes!!😁😁



They so beautiful


Aww ❤️ ❤️

Dustin Badgerow

Karina Rocha


😍 excelente experiencia !! 😍💜

Dustin Badgerow

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