Sacramento Zoo staff often cite Holiday Magic as a favorite day at the Zoo. This is a special event where staff come together in a unique way to provide holiday-themed treats for the animals!
Though Zoo residents regularly receive enrichments (treats or items to stimulate natural behaviors), guests are often unaware of these activities. If you’ve ever wondered why cardboard or a coffee sack was in an exhibit, it was part of an enrichment. Keepers are always coming up with a variety of treats, puzzles and other ways to keep the animals stimulated and happy.
The enrichments for Holiday Magic are extra special because of the festive touch and the multi-department collaboration. The Zoo’s Digital Media Manager spearheads the planning. It’s a great break-from-routine for her as she works with Animal Care staff, the Education Department and the Sacramento Zoo Teens to come up with the types of enrichments and the fun ideas for how they’ll be presented.
Planning the types of enrichments includes considering individual animals’ dietary needs, their safety and what’s fun for visitors to see. Some of food enrichments include pine cones coated with yams and cranberries, handmade stockings filled with fruits and vegetables, bamboo wreaths and of course the Black and White Ruffed Lemur’s “Santa’s Village” feast. Each item must be veterinarian and keeper approved, then care must be given while assembling the treats.
Other enrichments include items the animals can play with, such as Christmas trees, ice and cardboard boxes filled with scents like cinnamon. The Zoo Teens are vital in helping design the holiday-themed piñatas made from cardboard, newspaper and flour paste. Making sure to remove any tape and staples, Zoo Teens and staff cleverly decorate the boxes. Other boxes are cleverly decorated using nontoxic paints and Christmas wrap with safe inks after tape and staples are removed. The Grinch’s sleigh, an elf hut and a giant present topped with an elaborately crafted paper bow have all made debuts during Holiday Magic.
This year’s Holiday Magic is Saturday, December 10. During scheduled enrichments, information will be shared so visitors can learn more about the animals. Enrichments will take place every thirty minutes from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm so you’re sure to enjoy this festive day as much as staff. Visit saczoo.org/holidaymagic for the enrichment schedule and more information.
|Male African Lion curiously enjoys his enrichment.|
|Wolf's Guenon eats yam and cranberries from a festive pine cone.|
|Reticulated Giraffe with edible wreath.|
|Holiday Magic guests peer into the Aardvark mound.|