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The edible garden

This summer, ARTIS will once again feature the edible garden. All of the temporary plants are edible for animals and people. These plants aren't just a treat in the normal sense of the word, they are also a treat for the eye.

Flavour and aroma

Herbivores from dry regions are particularly enthusiastic about the herbs. Fiji banded iguanas, for example, come running in response to their aroma. And whilst some people need to rinse their mouth after an encounter with the toothache plant, or Acmella oleracea, it does not seem to bother the Aldabra giant tortoise. The tortoise starts to chew on the flower bud, opens its beak for a moment, looks straight ahead and happily resumes grinding. Denizens of tropical rainforests are not interested in pungent flavours such as tarragon and sage, however. They prefer leaves with a mild, accessible flavour.



For the cattle group, all of the dark green foliage from the edible garden is easy to add to their diet. To the gut, endive resembles grass. Cabbage and allium plants are a different story, however. You need to introduce these types of plants slowly. Leek, garlic and onion contain allicin, which can play a positive role in suppressing intestinal parasites.

Animals do not regard their basic diet as boring and, unlike humans, do not go searching for additions to their daily fare

Diet enrichment

It is important to be patient when offering new feed and to allow animals to get accustomed to new flavours. Animals do not regard their basic diet as boring and, unlike humans, do not go searching for additions to their daily fare. They need to get used to flavours. Consequently, if a spider monkey does not immediately devour a newly introduced vegetable, this does not mean it does not like it.

Less waste

The edible garden at ARTIS not only provides a varied diet for the animals, but also cuts down on waste. More is recycled and there is less waste, because all of the plants grown in the edible garden are consumed. Furthermore, growing food in ARTIS reduces transport. It is also good for the bees. Bee populations are declining due to factors including the decline in the amount of flowery fields and the use of chemical herbicides in agriculture. Bees can collect nectar at ARTIS, flying from flower to flower. The same is true of individual gardening efforts; when you grow vegetables in your garden or on your balcony, you reap the same benefits.