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Keeper Stories – Tuesday, March 14

Hey there, readers! I hope you’re staying warm during this cold week! Today, I thought I’d answer one of the most popular questions I get from you guys: What do you do to help keep the animals from getting bored? This is one of my favorite questions to answer because it allows me to talk about enrichment!

“Enrichment” is a fancy word for how we keepers enhance the well-being of the animals by encouraging and stimulating natural behaviors through sight, smell, taste, touch and interaction. Now, enrichment can be any number of things! In fact there are many different kinds of enrichment for every species in the Zoo. It can be as simple as spraying the scent of roses on some hay, to being as complex as a kerplunk puzzle feeder. We often use things that we people use every day as enrichment too. For example, in my department we often give the primates mirrors, burlap sacks, tennis balls, and even blankets.

Painting is another form of enrichment that many of the animals enjoy. For example, one of our lemurs, Neal, recently painted a picture for our annual Beastly Feast auction. Painting encourages movement and provides a different stimuli for the lemurs to touch and smell. The paint is always non-toxic, so it’s okay if they decide to taste it.

Enrichment is one of my favorite things to do as keeper. It allows me to improve the lives of my animals and be creative in my job!
Mari Arbir
Keeper I, Primates

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl