What is a Volunteer Enrichment Committee?

Last weekend, we hosted our annual Enrichment Day. In addition to the hard work of our keepers, a special group of Houston Zoo Volunteers focuses on creating enrichment for the animals at the Zoo. Hear from Heather Simm, one of our great Volunteers, as she discusses the Houston Zoo Volunteer Enrichment Committee and why enrichment is so important.

Written by Heather Simm
enrichment3The Volunteer Enrichment Committee is an adult volunteer-led committee comprised of creative, handy, and crafty Houston Zoo Volunteers. The committee meets throughout the year to build an array of exciting new enrichment items for the animals at the Houston Zoo.

The committee works with Zoo staff to make items that encourage natural behaviors, such as foraging for food. To be eco-conscious, many of our projects also involve reusing materials in a new way. For example, we have used old fire hoses to weave a floating hammock for the sea lions and a daybed for the Zoo’s dingos. Newspaper is reused to make papier mache items that can be filled with various treats for all sorts of different animals. We have also constructed bird toys out of egg cartons, playing cards, paper towel tubes, and cardboard boxes.


Whether a task requires crocheting, power tools, or an array of crafting skills, the dedicated volunteers on the Zoo’s Volunteer Enrichment Committee attack each project with a passion. enrichment1You may have seen items the committee built for Enrichment Day this year: a large paper and cardboard “tiger” that was filled with treats for the orangutans, two 5-foot tall papier mache “termite mounds” that feature tunnels where keepers can hide all sorts of bugs and treats for the anteaters, and cardboard and feather “birds” which will be introduced to some of the Zoo’s resident carnivores.

Interested in being a part of this talented group? Visit https://www.houstonzoo.org/volunteer/  for more information.

Search Blog & Website
Subscribe to Houston Zoo News
Get the latest stories and updates from the Zoo in your inbox! Find out how: Houston Zoo News
Houston Zoo Facebook Page

Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
... See MoreSee Less


Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.


Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂


Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

+ View more comments

We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less


Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?


Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!


Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Ashley Nguyen

Vicente Gonzalez

+ View more comments

Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
... See MoreSee Less



Comment on Facebook

Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl


thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm


Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕


+ View more comments