What's Kosher at the Zoo?

We assigned our roving reporters (Shaya, Sara, Rivky, Bracha and Tehilla Scher) to The Maryland Zoo during Chol Hamoed Passover with a mission to find the kosher animals. Armed with their cameras and a picnic lunch - Shaya took the lead and filed this report!

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is a great place with many interesting animals. Here are some of the animals we scoped out:


In order for an animal to be kosher, it needs to have hooves that are totally split. At the zoo, there were a number of animals with split hooves. The goats in the goat corral at the zoo were a good example. We enjoyed petting and brushing their fur while getting a close-up, hands-on look at their hooves. Another feature of kosher animals is that they chew their cud. Whenever they eat, the swallowed food comes back to their mouth and the animal chews it again. Additionally, an animal may not be eaten if there is no tradition passed down from generation to generation concerning its kosher status.
Although not known by many people, giraffes are kosher animals. The reason giraffes are not eaten by Jews is that there is no tradition passed down about them being kosher . We had a very good view of these beautiful and amazing animals at the zoo. In fact, the zoo offers a giraffe encounter station where you can feed a giraffe and the giraffes are close enough to pet, although we couldn’t do this- zoo rules. Also not commonly known, deer and gazelle are kosher. The Maryland Zoo includes the African gazelle and sitatunga, a kind of deer found in Africa. We enjoyed viewing all of these animals at the zoo.

Kosher Eaters
Many animals at the Maryland Zoo have kosher diets. Here are a few of them. Each penguin eats one pound of anchovies, a kosher fish, every day. Of course, all herbivores have a kosher diet. We fed the giraffes a bunch of acacia browse, a type of plant. But flamingos have a very non-kosher diet. They eat shellfish, fish, worms, insects, algae, seeds, and plants. At least the plants are kosher! In fact, Flamingos get their pink color from the shrimp they eat! 

Kosher Shofars
At the Maryland Zoo, a variety of animals have horns. Could you use them for a Shofar?


1. A rhinoceros is not kosher so you can’t use its horn for a Shofar.
2. A warthog is also not kosher so its horn can’t be used. Also, a warthog’s horns are not really horns. They are overgrown teeth and are actually tusks.
3. A gazelle is kosher so the horns are kosher for a Shofar.
4. An elephant is not kosher and it has tusks, not horns, like a warthog.
5. A goat is kosher, so its horns are kosher.
6. Even though a cow is kosher, its horns are not kosher shofars. This is because the Torah describes the cow horn as a keren instead of a shofar.

I had a very enjoyable time visiting the Maryland zoo with my family. The animals are a true reflection  of the diverse creatures that exist in all parts of the world. It would be a shame slaughtering them to eat. Instead, come to the Maryland zoo to see all these amazing wonders of Hashem. 


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