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Weight Watching for Food Raiding Racoon at Sussex Zoo

It’s not just us humans that need to diet and detox after the Christmas extravagances; sometimes our four legged friends need to watch their waistlines too.

At Drusillas Park in East Sussex, Head Keeper Mark Kenward is responsible for monitoring animal diets and making adjustments to their food plans where necessary.     One furry resident in particular has recently attracted his attention; Woody the racoon appears to have eaten more than his festive fair share and is starting to look a little less than trim.

Racoons will eat almost anything, although at the award winning zoo in Alfriston they enjoy a varied diet of apple, pear, banana, grapes, cucumber, celery, chicken, mice, eggs, fish and insects. They are native throughout North America and have a large bushy black and white ringed tail. They also have a black stripe across their face which resembles a robber’s mask; the perfect disguise for a food raiding racoon.

Mark commented: “Racoons go into a sort of semi hibernation during the winter. As the temperature has fallen over the last few weeks, the group has slowly become less active.  It is normal for them to put on a few extra pounds as they live off their fat reserves. They do get up for meals but the majority of their day is spent sleeping.”

“Woody arrived at Drusillas in 2008 and lives with his two daughters Bandit and Turpin. He has always enjoyed his food but we have noticed that whilst the girls have been sleeping away the winter, he has been hoovering up all the best bites and not burning off the calories.” 

“We are not too concerned at the moment but we have made a few adjustments to his eating plan and will be keeping a close eye on him over the coming months. This combined with a little more exercise once the weather improves, we are confident he will not be biting off more than he should chew in future." 

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