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Enrichment Day 2016

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2016
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Meerkat Enrichment-0015-3017

Meet us at the Enrichment-on-the-Go trailer parked at the Reflection Pool to help construct animal enrichment at:
11:00 a.m.
2:15 p.m.

Stick around and join us to help give the enrichment you built to our meerkat mob at the Carruth Natural Encounters Building at:
11:30 a.m.
2:45 p.m.

At the Houston Zoo, we choose items and activities that are safe and encourage natural behaviors.

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.

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.