Special to the Journal
Each year Chehaw sets aside a day in fall to give the Animals an extra special Thanksgiving. This year’s Animal thanksgiving is this Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Zoo Plaza. Participation in the event is free with park and Zoo admission.
Animal Thanksgiving is a day where families who visit the Zoo are able to watch some of their favorite animals receive special treats. Guests will have the opportunity to help make the unique enrichment items, and gather the delicious treats, that will then be introduced into certain exhibits.
The day will include several hands-on crafts and activities for children visiting the zoo, before they watch the animals receive their goodies. Bears will be fed cornucopias overflowing with their favorite treats and rhinos will be given goody-coated pinecones. Meerkats will attack a cricket-stuffed tetherball and kangaroos will have a ball with a bouncy ball during lunch. The scaly critters in the reptile house will be fed and the cheetahs will run the lure course before receiving a special cheetah-piñata. Wolves will receive some tasty biscuits and the servals will chase down some “fast food.”
Animal enrichment within a zoo is a way for keepers to encourage and stimulate natural behaviors in the animals through sight, smell, taste, touch, and interaction. In a zoo setting, it is as important to provide both mentally and physically enriching activities for the animals as it is to provide nutritious, well-balanced diets.
Without sensory stimulation and engaging activities, captive animals may become bored with their surroundings, and may develop negative behaviors. Enrichment can help reduce those possibilities by changing their environment, encouraging the animals’ natural behaviors, and providing different experiences for their senses.