Zookeepers at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore provide animal enrichment everyday to keep them stimulated and doing things that come naturally. On special days, the animals and visitors get an added treat made possible by the zoo’s Enrichment Team. The team was formed in January 2006. The volunteers assemble once a month to make colorful paper maché animals, balloons and other containers that will be filled with meat or produce and given to the animals on “Enrichment Days.”
They are preparing for five events between Valentine’s Enrichment Day on February 14 and Bunny Bonanzoo April 3-5. On a recent Sunday, the team was at work as they made between 10-30 items when they met. Julie Grove, Animal Behavior and Training Specialist, says the project began to increase the natural behaviors of the animals and in addition these special days increases the zoo’s guest experience.
Besides the paper maché and gift bags the team makes “cakes” for Samson and the other elephants to celebrate his birthday, popcorn for the elephants, and they create other items that challenge and provide fun for the animals.
“None of this ever would have been happening without the volunteers,” Grove says.
These are upcoming events from Jane Ballentine, Director of Public Relations
VALENTINE’S ENRICHMENT DAY
february 14│10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.│Zoo grounds
Love is in the air…Watch as the Zoo’s animals receive special Valentine’s Day treats decorated in pinks, reds, and hearts. Zookeepers will be around to explain the importance of enrichment activities.
MARDI GRAS ENRICHMENT DAY
February 21│10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.│Zoo grounds
Laissez les bon temps rouler! Watch as the Zoo’s animals receive special Mardi Gras treats decorated in bright New Orleans colors and listen as zookeepers explain the importance of enrichment activities.
March 14│10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.│
Come celebrate the start of another wild spring season at Zoo Bloom! Time to end your indoor hibernation and enjoy the first signs of spring at The Maryland Zoo. Join us as we kick off another season of fun and family memories with special spring treats, activities and giveaways and enrichment for the animals.
ST. PATRICK’S ENRICHMENT DAY
MARCH 22│10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.│Zoo grounds
Top O’the mornin to ya! The Zoo’s animals receive specially themed St. Patty’s Day treats decorated in the bright greens of Ireland. For the animals, the pot o’gold at the end of the rainbow might just be some tasty meat and fruit snacks hidden in wonderful paper mache creations.
MARY SUE® CANDIES BUNNY BONANZOO
april 3-5│10.00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.│ Waterfowl Lake Pavilion
The Easter Bunny has left some eggs behind at the Zoo! Join the Zoo family as we celebrate the holiday with this annual festival, complete with games, crafts, live entertainment, food and free egg hunts. Each child that participates in an egg hunt can redeem their found eggs for Mary Sue chocolate eggs! Tour around the Zoo and watch the animals get their Easter themed enrichment treats.
ANIMAL ENRICHMENT DAY
september 12│10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.│Zoo grounds
Come to the Zoo for a day of special animal enrichment! Watch as the Zoo’s animals receive special treats, such as bags filled with hay and produce, icy fish and fruit treats, as well as paper mache toys filled with fruits and nuts, and listen as zookeepers explain the importance of enrichment activities.