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Enrichment Day 2015


Saturday, September 19, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

10:00 Natural Encounters – Red Panda Enrichment
10:00 Elephant Bath at the Elephant Barn
10:15 Natural Encounters – Inside Rainforest Enrichment
10:15 Reptile Building – Produce Feeds
10:30 Natural Encounters – Tamandua Enrichment at BEC Lawn
10:30 Giant Eland Enrichment
10:30 Reptile Building – Komodo Dragon Enrichment
10:45 Natural Encounters – Desert Enrichment
10:45 Okapi Enrichment

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

11:00 Natural Encounters – River’s Edge Enrichment
11:00 Birds of the World – Red Crowned Crane Enrichment
11:15 Cassowary Enrichment
11:30 Natural Encounters – Piranha Enrichment
11:30 St. Vincent Amazon Enrichment

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

12:00 WWP – Lemur Enrichment
12:15 WWP – Tamarin Enrichment
12:30 African Forest – Gorilla Enrichment at the Chevron Lookout
12:30 Children’s Zoo Swap Shop – Parrot Enrichment
12:30 WWP – Mandrill Training Demonstration
12:45 Children’s Zoo – Raccoon Enrichment
12:45 WWP – Mandrills Enrichment
12:45 WWP – Babirusa Enrichment
12:55 Children’s Zoo – River Otter Enrichment

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

1:00 WWP – Orangutan Enrichment
1:00 Lion Window Enrichment Talk
1:00 Rhino Enrichment
1:00 Duck Lake – Pelican Enrichment
1:05 Children’s Zoo – Banded Mongoose Enrichment
1:15 Children’s Zoo – Swift Fox Enrichment
1:15 Flight Pen Enrichment
1:25 Children’s Zoo – Cow & Llama Enrichment
1:30 Elephant Enrichment
1:30 African Painted Dog Enrichment
1:30 Giraffe Enrichment
1:30 Sea Lion Show and Enrichment
1:35 Children’s Zoo – Petting Zoo Enrichment
1:45 Gerenuk Enrichment
1:45 Bear Puzzle Feeders
1:45 Tropical Bird House – Rainforest Enrichment

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

2:00 Cheetah Enrichment
2:00 Cougar Enrichment
2:00 Natural Encounters – Sea Jellies Enrichment
2:00 Tapir & Capybara Enrichment
2:15 Maned Wolf & Anteater Enrichment
2:20 Natural Encounters – Fish Enrichment
2:30 Clouded Leopard Enrichment
2:45 Natural Encounters – Meerkat Enrichment

What is Enrichment?

Animals in nature have to work for a living – to find food, to make nests, and to find shelter. Play is another natural activity. Life for the animals at the Houston Zoo is more predictable than in the wild. That’s why our Zookeepers use enrichment to create variety through work and play. Zookeepers at the Houston Zoo create an environment for our animals that allows for physical and mental choices and challenges.


At the Houston Zoo, we choose items and activities that are safe and encourage natural behaviors. For example, orangutans in the wild make nests each time they stop to go to sleep at night. At the Houston Zoo, we give our orangutans cut branches of hackberry, mulberry, banana leaves, willow, hay or bamboo to make nests. Zookeepers also give them “toys” such as large indestructible balls and rubber tubes, crates and colorful fabric.


Hiding food encourages natural foraging behavior. During Enrichment Day, our mandrills will receive forage piles – yummy treats covered in substrate that they must dig through. Lemurs and guenons enjoy puzzle feeders; which are made by drilling holes in PVC pipes and then filling the tubes with some of the primates’ favorite treats. It takes more than a quick lick to get to the goodies inside!


Exercise is also a form of enrichment. You may take your dog for a long walk or play tug of war with an old sock. Zookeepers at the Houston Zoo encourage physical activity in a variety of ways. For instance, Malayan tigers enjoy tugging on a large plastic barrel attached to a cord.  Jaguars will sometimes receive their bones in barrels.  They manipulate the slots in the barrel to get to the yummy treats inside.