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Enrichment Day Presented by Chase

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Just how long will it take a piranha to eat a fish filet? How does a chimpanzee paint a picture? How do you bathe an elephant? Do big cats like popsicles? Find out the answers to these intriguing questions and a lot more during Enrichment Day Presented by Chase.

Guests will enjoy a rare opportunity to see a wide variety of unique environmental enrichment and training activities. See how the Giraffe herd solves a puzzle (hint: There’s food inside!). See Blanco the Alligator pulverize a watermelon. And while you’re at the Zoo, don’t forget to check out our cool keepers during special Meet the Keeper Talks and training demonstrations at exhibits across the Zoo (see schedule below).

But the fun doesn’t end there! Enrichment Day Presented by Chase also features enrichment for Zoo guests including games for kids, environmental tips from the Zoo’s horticulture experts, and enrichment ideas from The Parrot Trust. See the hard working canines from Greater Houston Search Dogs, and meet representatives from The Marine Mammal Stranding Network and the Downtown Aquarium.


10:00-11:00 a.m.

10:00 Kipp Aquarium
10:00 Red Panda
10:00 Elephant Baths at Barn
10:15 Natural Encounters Inside Rainforest
10:15 Reptile Building
10:30 Komodo Dragon
10:30 Natural Encounters Bat
10:30 Giant Eland and Warthog
10:45 King Vulture
10:45 Natural Encounters Desert
10:45 Red Crowned Crane

11:00 a.m.-Noon

11:00 Tropical Bird House Rainforest
11:00 Natural Encounters River’s Edge
11:00 Cassowary Enrichment
11:00 Cinereous Vulture
11:15 St. Vincent Amazon
11:15 Elephant Pool
11:30 Natural Encounters Piranha

Noon-1:00 p.m.

12:00 Lemur – Wortham World of Primates
12:15 Tamarin – Wortham World of Primates
12:30 Patas Monkeys – Wortham World of Primates
12:30 Parrot – Children’s Zoo Swap Shop
12:30 Chimpanzee
12:45 Coati – Children’s Zoo
12:45 DeBrazza’s/Mandrills – Wortham World of Primates
12:55 Raccoon – Children’s Zoo

1:00-2:00 p.m.

1:00 Red-capped Mangabey – Wortham World of Primates
1:00 Lion Window
1:00 Rhino
1:00 Pelicans – Duck Lake
1:05 River Otter – Children’s Zoo
1:15 Swift Fox – Children’s Zoo
1:15 Flamingo
1:15 Swamp Monkeys – Wortham World of Primates
1:25 Cow – Children’s Zoo
1:30 African Painted Dogs
1:30 Giraffe
1:30 Siamang – Wortham World of Primates
1:30 Elephant Browse
1:30 Sea Lion Show
1:35 Goats – Children’s Zoo
1:45 Babirusa – Wortham World of Primates
1:45 Ankole Cattle Browse
1:45 Bears
1:45 Flight Pen – Birds of the World

2:00-3:00 p.m.

2:00 Orangutan – Wortham World of Primates
2:00 Cougar
2:00 Cheetah
2:00 Sea Jellies – Natural Encounters
2:20 Natural Encounters Fish
2:30 Tiger Training Window
2:45 Meerkat

3:00-3:15 p.m.

3:00 Leopard
3:15 Clouded Leopard

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 keepers use enrichment to create variety through work and play. Keepers 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. Keepers 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 Presented by Chase, our Mandrills will receive forage piles – yummy treats covered in substrate that they must dig through. Lemurs and Guenons enjoy puzzle feeders. Keepers drill holes in PVC pipes and then fill 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. Keepers at the Houston Zoo encourage physical activity in a variety of ways. For instance, Malayan tigers Pandu and Satu enjoy tugging on a large plastic barrel attached to a cord. Jaguars, Kan Balam and Cocoy, will sometimes receive their bones in barrels. They manipulate the slots in the barrel to get to the yummy treats inside.

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