Chirp! Detroit Zoo Launches Cricket Breeding Program

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The Detroit Zoological Society has launched a cricket breeding program that has Detroit Zoo staff chirping with excitement.

Crickets are part of the daily diet of approximately 1,900 animals at the Detroit Zoo — mainly amphibians, but also reptiles, birds and some mammals. The purchase of crickets has historically carried the highest cost of all food sources at the zoo — including meat, fish and produce — at more than $98,000 per year.

“This breeding program guarantees an unlimited supply of healthy crickets for our animals and will result in significant cost savings,” says Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer.

With the new breeding initiative, the zoo projects it will save approximately $225,000 in the first three years. Breeding the crickets not only saves on shipping costs, but it removes any welfare impacts on the crickets associated with travel.

“This will allow more animals to have access to crickets and eliminate supply interruptions and health risks,” Carter says. “It also reduces our carbon footprint by eliminating packing materials required for the shipment and delivery process.”

In order to establish the program, a section of the Detroit Zoo’s commissary was renovated and 4,000 adult breeder crickets were acquired.

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