As you reflect on what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving, consider adding “the silly names of Brevard Zoo’s turkeys” to your list.
When you meander through the Zoo’s Wild Florida area and peer into the deer yard, it’s hard to look past the habitat’s other residents. But peek just a little further and you might spot our flock of Osceola turkeys!
Our small flock has been at the Zoo since September 2020 and consists of four individuals: three hens and one tom (or male). The hens are called Gravy, Giblet and Cranberry, while our tom is named Green Bean Casserole… yes, you read that right.
“Each turkey has a unique personality,” said Wild Florida keeper Christen Carrillo. “That makes working with them lots of fun!”
According to Christen, Gravy is always ready to train and is the first turkey to approach new animal care staff. “Giblet and Cranberry usually follow Gravy’s lead and approach new people once they get a feel of what’s going on,” said Christen. “Green Bean Casserole is often seen hanging out with our sandhill cranes and pecking at browse.”
Our Wild Florida keepers have trained our flock to voluntarily step onto a scale, which is very important as we can help monitor their weight for any changes. All the turkeys were hesitant at first, but Gravy, Giblet and Cranberry are all great at this behavior now! We’re still working with Green Bean Casserole, but we will follow his lead to make sure he is comfortable. The hens all weigh between eight and 10 pounds.
The turkeys are fed a blend of grain, poultry crumbles, insects and greens. They also get novelty items on occasion such as fruits, berries and vegetables. “Their favorite snack is craisins, which is what we typically use to encourage training behaviors,” said Christen.
On your next visit, see if you can spot our flock or listen for their “gobble”! From Brevard Zoo to you and yours, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.