Behind the Scenes banner

World-class diets, prepared with love and expertise, help our animals grow, heal, and live their best possible lives. Your generous support makes this possible. We’re asking you to support your Zoo with a gift to provide a “magical meal” to an animal this holiday season and beyond. If you’re able to give, every donation counts. Visit BrevardZoo.org/Magic to make this holiday season magical for our Zoo. 

When you think of zoodles, the spiralized veggie trend from years-past, you might have flashbacks to your own diet fads. While you may not have thought about whipping out your spiralizer for any recipes recently, our commissary team consistently has one on deck, especially for our cotton-top tamarin, Cricket’s, diet.  

Cricket, the patriarch of our critically endangered cotton-top tamarin family, is well beyond the median life expectancy for his species. At 22, he has faced his fair share of health struggles. So, when our animal care team noticed he was having urination issues, they moved quickly to investigate. Tests of Cricket’s urine and blood showed that he was diabetic. Naturally, the care team was concerned, as diabetes in primates can be potentially life-threatening if not carefully managed. 

“We all felt worried about him,” said primates area supervisor Michelle Johnston. “We were worried he would not be as motivated to train if we were not using fruit items.” 

In place of sugary snacks like grapes and craisins, our animal care team began training Cricket with insects, one of his favorite treats. We also modified his daily diet to offer a greater variety of vegetables and cooked beans for protein. But, just like humans, cotton-top tamarins can often find healthier foods boring. Cricket’s care team has worked hard to present his food in unique ways to catch his eye and gain his interest, like by delivering nutrients in the form of spiralized zucchini and carrots. 

Because of the power of these magical meals, Cricket continues to live a healthy life with his mate and three sons in Rainforest Revealed. 

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.