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A new structure has popped up near the Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine, and while the understated design might not draw attention, the building serves a valuable role in the Zoo’s animal care and welfare mission.

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The 9,000-square-foot hay barn was finished in late June and is a new, centralized storage facility for storing hay. The Zoo’s animals consume 550 tons of hay a year — that’s 21,500 bales! Elephants eat about 25% of that total, with giraffe, zebras and rhinos the next biggest consumers. Hay is also used for bedding materials for primates and other animals.

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Before the hay barn, the Zoo used four different storage facilities, so having one location increases efficiency for Zoo staff who are testing, inspecting and loading the hay.

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The barn also allows the animal care team to purchase and store larger quantities of hay at one time. Larger quantities means more consistent nutritional value with each delivery, and more efficient rotation and storage management of the hay. Having more consistent make-up of hay means the animals’ diet isn’t changing as often. This leads to overall healthier animals and reduced veterinary intervention.

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“At its fullest capacity the building could hold nine months of the Zoo’s hay needs,” said Travis Vineyard, the Zoo's Curator of Animals. Hay can be stacked up to 18-feet high, and the building doors are big enough for semi trucks to back in. Browse – plant material that animals can eat – will be planted on the outside.

Built by the Metroparks, the barn was funded entirely by the Cleveland Zoological Society and its generous donors: Daniel Maltz, the Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation; The Reinberger Foundation; The Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust. The first shipment of hay arrived in July.

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