An egg-cellent time had by all
Hello! My name is Holly, and I’ve been a Seasonal Keeper with the Gorilla Care Team for about two months now. One of my favorite activities so far has been helping the team create fun enrichment for the gorillas to use. We often make special enrichment for holidays and birthdays, and Easter was no exception. To celebrate, the Gorilla Care Team made over 200 sugar-free Jell-O eggs to hide around the habitats for the gorillas to find, as well as colored wood wool and frozen ice treats.
At Zoo Atlanta, we love to celebrate in style, and what better way than with brightly colored wood wool? Not only do the gorillas use the wool to make brightly colored nests, but they also engage with it by foraging through it. In this instance, it also provided a great hiding spot for some of those eggs. Merry and Taz especially enjoyed “wearing” the wood wool, placing it on their heads and backs and promenading around the habitat. Floyd also greatly enjoyed making a giant, multi-colored nest for himself, carrying as much as he could to his nest.
The ice treats we made out of water colored with food coloring, with sunflower seeds and grapes frozen inside. Anaka and Mija greatly enjoyed the hanging ice treats, swinging them around until they fell and broke on the ground or smashed against the tree trunk. Andi preferred the free-floating ice treats that she could take with her, smashing them against a stump in the habitat to get to the fruit in the middle. Sukari could also be seen holding as many as she could carry.
As for the Jell-o eggs, we started making them about a week in advance using silicone and plastic molds. Since gorillas are natural foragers, finding and eating their food off the ground, an egg hunt is perfect enrichment for them! Most of the eggs were “hidden” in plain sight, which made it easy for the gorillas to find them. All of the gorillas had a great time gathering and eating the eggs, though Floyd found it quite difficult to hold on to them. Every time he would grab one, it would slip out of his hand and roll down the hill. He did eventually get the hang of holding onto the eggs and enjoyed many. I’d say that overall, the celebration was a success and the gorillas had an egg-cellent time!
Seasonal Keeper, Gorilla Care Team