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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  for more information.