What do you give the zoo that has everything? A dead water buffalo.

That’s the unusual offer Clackamas County heavy-hauling magnate Terry Emmert made the Oregon Zoo this month.

Emmert owns the Portland Thunder arena football team and a herd of more than 400 water buffalo he raises outside Oregon City and sells as meat to restaurants.  

Two weeks ago, Emmert sold the zoo a water buffalo, slaughtered at Emmert’s meat-packing plant in Sandy, as a meal for the zoo’s African lions.

Dr. Matt Brooks, the zoo's nutritionist, said Emmert's company approached the zoo with the idea, and veterinarians agreed it would be a "very naturalistic feeding opportunity" for the lions.

"Although this water buffalo species is Asiatic," Brooks says, "it is similar to the cape buffalo that some of the zoo's animals would encounter in the wild."

The buffalo arrived whole on March 13. Zoo officials say the carcass gave the lions new nutrients and a change of pace.

“The horns, tough hide, udders, and just the mere size of it, offered unique and enriching activities,” says Africa section curator Jennifer Davis. “It ended up weighing around 1,400 pounds, and not only the lions but also the African painted dogs got to enjoy it for a little while on the second day.”

Emmert charged the zoo about $2,800. He tells WW the lions' meal is a testimony to his free-range product.

“The king of beasts gave it a great rating,” Emmert says. “They loved it.”

In somewhat related news, the Portland Thunder open their arena football season against the Los Angeles Kiss at 7 pm Friday, March 27 at the Moda Center. WW previews the season opener in this week's edition.