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Each morning at PrideRock Wildlife Refuge, staff and volunteers diligently prepare 300 pounds of food for the 32 tigers, lions and cougars that call the refuge home. Unwrapping marbled steaks and tender chicken breasts from store packaging, they place them in industrial-sized stainless steal bowls and pans. The scale of the operation is impressive – the environmental impact is even more so.

The animals at PrideRock in Terrell, Texas feast on food waste diverted from local landfills. Through Quest Resource Management Group’s food recycling program, PrideRock receives an average of 2,000 pounds of much needed fresh meat for their big cats each week.

Not only does this food recycling partnership help the non-profit wildlife refuge feed animals in need, it combats greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food in landfills. Decomposing food waste creates and releases methane gas, a greenhouse gas 25 percent more potent then carbon dioxide (CO2), into the atmosphere. In addition, recycling one ton of food waste per week has the equivalent environmental benefit of removing 118 cars from the road for a year.

As grocers pull meat from the shelves due to looming best by dates, the food is held for the participating animal park or wildlife refuge.

“Sometimes we get stuff that won’t go out of date for another week, and sometimes we get stuff that the sell by date was last week. But that doesn’t mean the meat is bad,” said Corey Allison, an animal keeper at PrideRock. “The meat that we take is good quality and it does help our cats,” he added.

Win-Win-Win

Direct-feed food recycling is a win for animal parks, the environment and retailers alike. Participating grocers benefit from reduced costs associated with landfill disposal of heavy meat products, reduced environmental footprint and increased community involvement.

Animal parks like PrideRock rely on food donations to provide nutritional, healthy diets for the animals in their care. Money saved through the direct-feed program goes to providing safe enclosures and toys for enrichment activities.

Interested in a direct-feed food recycling program for your retail location or animal park? Visit questrmg.com/animalpark/ for more information.