Thursday, November 19, 2009

Toys, Browse & Worms!

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Yesterday was one of those "I love my job!" days.

As part of our Wild Affair fundraising event back in October, guests could buy an enrichment item for the animals. Enrichments are anything that is out of the ordinary for the animals that will stimulate their minds and get them thinking. Items included everything from puzzle tubes which hold worms to bubble machines.

We started taking pictures of the animals with their new items and thought you might like to tag along!

First stop: Snow leopards
Two balls (we call them Boomer balls), were rubbed down with the common household spice mace, and placed in their exhibit. When their den doors were opened they headed straight towards the new toys to check them out. They spent quite a bit of time sniffing, rubbing and even licking the spice which of course rolled the boomer balls around the exhibit.

Second stop: Black & white ruffed lemurs
Lemurs enjoy eating and playing with browse, so Zoo keepers cut branches from around the Zoo as an enrichment. Two fruitless mulberry trees were purchased and planted to add to our supply of fun and delicious branches. The lemurs even tried to help out with the camera equipment which I have to say, distracted the photographer and videographer for a bit.

Third stop: Coquerel's sifaka
The Coquerel's sifaka are another type of lemur and live right next door to the Black and white lemurs. They also enjoy their browse but can't eat as wide of a variety as other lemurs. Coprosma is one they enjoy and a dozen of them were purchased and planted around the Zoo. On this occasion, they were much more interested in the camera equipment than the plants, so I guess we were the enrichment for the day!

Last stop: Ground hornbills
Ground hornbills love their worms so for this enrichment flexible tubing was capped off at each end, holes are drilled into it and it is filled with worms! They spent their time moving the puzzle tubes around to try to get the worms to fall out. Each time they found one, they would pick it up with the tip of their bill then flick their heads up to toss it into their mouth.

Zoo keepers work hard to come up with new and inventive enrichments for the animals and our Afternoon Enrichment Talks give the visitors a chance to see them! Check out the calendar by day to see where the talks will be when you visit.

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