“Enrichment” Day at the Sacramento Zoo

Around 10 o’clock on Saturday (the 14th) I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo because that was the day when they were supposed to supply the animals with special holiday “enrichments” — special treats with a Christmas theme (like wreaths of carrots and browse for the giraffes).  I got there just in time to see them “release the orangutans” into their enclosure which was filled with stockings, a tree, and plates covered in decorations made of edible veggies, flowers and tortillas (which apparently the animals like to eat).  There were also little cups with sippy-straws in them filled with a hot “tea” made of honey water.  The keepers said that the animals don’t get sweets and fruit very often, so when they get them at Christmastime, it’s a big deal.  There was one orangutan who pulled all of the candy canes off the tree and horded them for himself.  Hah!  The same orang’ then found one of the cups and knew how to use the straw… but he didn’t like the tea so he poured it all out onto the ground.

Then I got over to the Bongo and Red River Hogs’ area just in time to watch them set up all of their treats.  I’d seen the twin girl hoglets right after they were born and wanted to see how much they’d grown.  They rush out with their parents when the gates were open and scrambled around trying to get as many goodies as they could.  So cute!  They’re the same color as their parents now, but only about half the size.  Some of the treats for the hogs were gift boxes filled with greens and spices — and the hogs just loved those, and shredded them open as fast as they could.  For the Bongos there were pumpkin bowls filled with treats, and Christmas trees decorated in hay, veggies and fruit.  The keepers hung the trees up so they swung back and forth when the Bongos ate off of them.  It was such a neat experience to see all of this — I’d never seen anything like it before.

As I walked through the rest of the zoo, I came across other areas where enrichments were already given out earlier in the morning.  The chimps had a grand time throwing presents at each other and gobbling up treats.  One of them figured out that the “Happy Holidays” scrawled across the glass of the enclosure was made of yogurt, so he licked the glass and then used his index finger to trace the letters and licked the yogurt off his fingertip.  Too smart!

Here are a couple of short video of those chimpy antics:

Chimp Video, licking the glass #1: http://youtu.be/yebqGRJ72m4

Chimp Video, licking the glass and using his finger #2: http://youtu.be/CJzayilY-18

When I got over to the lions’ enclosure, there was a guy there who kept talking to male lion saying, “I want to get a good picture of you for a change… so stop pacing… and let me get your picture.”  And the lion stopped mid-step and looked right at him, and the guy fumbled with his camera.  He missed the shot.  Hah-ha-ha-ha!  Eventually, the lion got up on the highest hill inside his enclosure and just sat up there in the sun looking majestic.   Next door, the snow leopard was working on his treats for the morning which included stuff in ice.  You hardly ever get to see the snow leopard because he’s usually hiding up in the branches at the top of his enclosure, but today, because the treats were down in front of the enclosure, everyone got a good look at him.  I didn’t see much of the tigers (only got one shot of the mom) because there were so many people gathered around that enclosure waiting to see the baby tiger, CJ, get his treats.  He wasn’t going to get anything until about noon, but people were lined up 2- and 3-deep waiting to see him.

I went over to where the lemurs were instead and saw that their keeper had set out a small table and chairs for them, with all sorts of flowers and veggies piled up on it like a feast.  There were also margarita glasses filled with a special lemonade and cherries, and a piñata shaped like a turkey filled with spices and fruit…

I ended up with about 200 photos and short video clips. I would have liked to have stayed there all day to see all of the enrichment-activities (the hornbills were supposed to get ornament piñatas filled with crickets; hah!) but I can’t stay on my feet all day anymore ((**sad face**)), so around noontime I headed back home.  Still, it was a fun morning — AND I got some exercise to boot.  Good times!

Here are some photos from the day: