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New York City’s rat problem

May 23, 2019

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My First Job

My First Job: Animal Chef

Robert Garrova and Hayley Hershman Jun 23, 2015
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At the zoo, pandas typically don’t go on juice cleanses, and hippopotamuses don’t adhere to a GMO-free diet. But they do need someone to prepare food for them. That’s where Hannah Hayes stepped in. Her first job was a zoo chef.

Hayes recalls walking into the zoo kitchen every morning and reading the recipes listed on a whiteboard that wrapped around the room. Each animal has its own specific diet to follow.

“I’d make fruit salad for parrots, I would create pine cones covered in peanut butter with chocolate chips or whatever the bears wanted to eat. I often would go into the freezer to get out dead baby mice for the snakes,” Hayes says.

Being a chef for a variety of animals can be a pretty daunting task, but she also found it very rewarding.

“By the end of it, I think I felt pretty empowered about what I could accomplish. It made me feel empowered in the kitchen essentially, that I could create things,” Hayes says.

How We Survive
How We Survive
Climate change is here. Experts say we need to adapt. This series explores the role of technology in helping humanity weather the changes ahead.