Just how long will it take an elephant to eat a watermelon? How does an orangutan paint a picture? Does his technique different from an elephant or a tapir? Do big cats like pinatas? Find out the answers to these intriguing questions and a lot more during Animal Enrichment Day at the Houston Zoo Saturday, October 2, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
During Enrichment Day, Zoo guests will enjoy a rare opportunity to see a wide variety of unique environmental enrichment and training activities. See how Andean bears solve a puzzle (Hint: There’s food inside). How does a deer get its food out of a barrel? And while you’re at the Zoo, don’t forget to check out our cool keepers during entertaining Meet the Keeper Talks and training demonstrations at exhibits across the Zoo (see schedule link below).
But the fun doesn’t end there—Animal Enrichment Day also features enrichment for Zoo guests including games for kids, environmental tips from the Zoo’s Green Practices team and our horticulture experts. Visit the hard working canines from Greater Houston Search Dogs, and meet representatives from The Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Moody Gardens, the Downtown Aquarium, and the National Parrot Rescue Group.
Environmental enrichment is a way to mentally engage and challenge animals that live in zoos. The more enriched an animal is, the more likely the animal is to exhibit natural behaviors. Enrichment often involves food because much of an animal’s day is spent in search of food in the wild. Scent is another form of environmental enrichment. The Zoo’s carnivore (lions, tigers, small cats) keepers use spices, vanilla and even perfume to introduce smells into their exhibits. Another important kind of enrichment is training. Keepers train Zoo animals to display certain behaviors by using operant conditioning methods involving verbal cues, followed by a whistle, or reinforcement signal, and a food reward.
Houston Zoo Carnivore Keeper Angie Pyle prepares for a training session with the Zoo’s male African lion Jonathan at the lion training ‘window.’