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Dining Services scraps feed exotic animals in Jones

Feeding the animals in Concordia’s Biology Department is now more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, thanks to food donations from Dining Services.

The Exotic Animal Care and Husbandry Club is responsible for taking care of the animals housed in the Jones Science Center.  Assistant professor of biology and advisor of the Exotic Animal Care and Husbandry Club, Dr. Krystle Strand said the club leaves a clean, clear bin in a cooler within DS where employees can discard any scraps of food not intended for students, including apple cores and wilted lettuce.

Due to the help of DS workers, Strand estimates that the club saves about $30 each week in food costs.

Amber Ferris, senior and treasurer of the Exotic Animal Care and Husbandry Club said they made weekly trips to the grocery store last year, which have not been necessary this year with the food donations from DS.

Ferris said she picks up the food bins from DS on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  She said Dr. Strand gave DS a list of appropriate produce items for the animals.  Any food scraps on the list that are discarded during preparation are placed in the bins for Ferris to pick up.  Ferris said she is pleased with the array of food the animals now have to eat.

“Sometimes I think the animals eat better than I do,” she said.

Anthony Hanson, president of the club, said there are a couple of animals DS’s donations do not cover. Baby food for the geckos, frozen mice for the club’s corn snake, and crickets for the tarantula and bearded dragons are still purchased.  Hanson said the club is hoping to begin raising its own crickets to save extra money on food costs in the future.

Sometimes the club buys a squash to supplement the food supply, but most of animals are doing fine on the food they are receiving. Hanson said even the walking sticks, which can be choosey, eat most of the lettuce from DS.
Ferris explained that Gloria the tortoise loves tomatoes and grapes so much she will leave the lettuce in her dish and eat all of her fruit.  She will even pick the tomatoes and grapes out of the food dish of Iggy the iguana.

Hanson explained the animals get their daily meals from four main feeders who have designated animals to feed, with some of the other club members helping out when they want to spend time with the animals.  There is a training process students in the club go through in order to feed the animals, and Strand keeps a watchful eye on the animal care.

“I really stress the responsibility that goes along with having them here,” she said.

Strand said one of the club’s goals this year is getting more information about exotic animals to both the Concordia and the Fargo-Moorhead communities.
There are many people who purchase animals outside of cats or dogs and do not know the proper ways of caring for them, and she is passionate about getting that information to the public.  Strand hopes to teach people what animals are okay to keep, and how to provide a safe habitat, proper lighting, water, and food supplies for their pets.

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