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Grand New View: Savanna behind the scenes

Hello from everyone on the Hoofstock Team! It’s been a while since we’ve seen Zoo guests, but I promise, we’re still here! When we do get a chance to go out on grounds and talk to guests, most people have the same question: Where are the savanna animals? As many of you know, we are well underway on construction of our Grand New View project, opening in 2019. Grand New View will feature an all-new African savanna! While they’re not currently visible to our visitors, the giraffes, warthogs, zebras and ostriches are all still here at the Zoo, and during this time, we their caregivers have a rare opportunity to interact with the animals all day, every day. This means even more time for training and enrichment, which we are all very excited about. We are also in the process of adjusting our schedules to offer even more opportunities for enrichment throughout the day. We as animal care professionals are challenging ourselves to be even more inventive with what we offer the animals and are working together to brainstorm new and exciting creations.

We have found that all of the animals definitely have their preferences. Abu, the oldest of the giraffes, is my personal favorite to enrich. He loves interacting with enrichment. If he can scratch on it, he’s in! His personal favorite is a chime made of large metal spoons. You can always tell when one of us has put the spoons in for him because you can hear them clanging as he rubs his face all over them. Most of the other animals like their enrichment to have some food component included. The warthog girls are very intelligent, and we often place their diets in puzzle feeders that bring out their natural foraging behaviors. The ostriches are not quite on the same level as the warthogs – pecking at a simple hanging bundle of bamboo is fun for hours for those girls! The zebra girls love finding a little alfalfa hidden in their Bermuda hay. And last but not least, the younger giraffes love anything involving browse! We are very excited that things are starting to bloom again, and so are the giraffes! Some of their favorites at this time of year are Chinese elm, water oak and honeysuckle.

Marvin the Reeves’ muntjac is also very fun to enrich. His favorite enrichment involves scents. Some of his favorites include cinnamon, turmeric and allspice. We will sprinkle these spices on logs and branches, and he will go to town scent-marking and sparring with them.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Grand New View project and on the care of the savanna animals behind the scenes here at the Zoo. We’ll be back soon!
Bridget Smith
Keeper II, Mammals

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