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The wonderful world of orangutan enrichment

Hey there fellow animal enthusiasts! Caitlin from the Orangutan Care Team, here to talk a little more about the enrichment we give our orangutans at the Zoo, but with a twist. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know I am incredibly excited for fall to come as it is my favorite season. So, in thinking about the seasons changing, I wanted to talk more about the seasonally based types of enrichment that we provide the orangutans throughout the year. We provide several types of enrichment daily in order to mentally stimulate the orangutans and encourage them to engage in similar behaviors as they would in the wild.

There are lots of fun things we look forward to doing for the orangutans during the year, and since some things can only be done once or for a few months at a time, it remains novel and exciting for the orangutans as well! For instance, in the heat of the summer like we are experiencing now, we do different types of water-based enrichment to help keep our orangutans cool. We give them ice treats daily, both large and small, to keep them hydrated; these contain diluted juice and small pieces of fruits. Every so often we will turn on a sprinkler system for them to play in out on habitat as well. And in the orangutans’ behind-the-scenes indoor night areas, we give them non-toxic, animal-safe bubble bath that they love to play in. Blaze, whom can be seen during the day in Habitat 2, is especially known for loving to play in water.

During the fall, we will sometimes rake the leaves into piles out on habitat for the orangutans to play in and will sometimes scatter some fun treats for them to find in the leaf piles. Around Halloween they get small pumpkins as a novel food. There is not too much seasonally based enrichment for the winter, but in the rare event of snow in Atlanta (and if any sticks) we will bring in some snow for the orangutans to interact with indoors.

In the spring everything is abloom, and one of the orangutans’ favorite types of browse begins to grow: bamboo shoots! Bamboo shoots are young sprouts of bamboo that the orangutans love to munch on. 

Spring also means Easter is around the corner, so the orangutans (and Zoo guests) can look forward to the fun Jell-O egg hunts we provide for the animals to celebrate the holiday with us. On other special occasions like our Play the Animal Way event, we offer the orangutans decorated stuffed boxes, as well as special fruits like coconut, durian or jackfruit, all of which are native to the environments of Borneo and Sumatra where wild orangutans are found in the wild.

Our Play the Animal Way event is coming up this Saturday, September 3, so be sure to come out and see us and the orangutans interact with some of this special enrichment!

Caitlin M.
Keeper I, Primates

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl