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Zoo Happenings

Because Animals Like Presents Too!

Holiday Enrichment Tree at Virginia Zoo lets visitors give gifts to their favorite animals

Norfolk, VA (DEC. 9, 2009) - What’s on Zoo animal’s holiday wish lists?  Squirrel monkeys would like to get a CD of nature sounds. Reptiles want a heated mat. Kangaroos have asked for balls, and elephants want peanut butter – lots of peanut butter.

Zookeepers made a wish list of animal enrichment toys and tools in order to create a holiday “Enrichment Tree” in the Zoo entry plaza.  Each gift tag on the tree has a request for specific animals. Some of the items, such as safari balls for elephants, are specifically manufactured to be safe for the animals. For these gifts, the tags list the industry website. Other gifts, including peanut butter, spices, fruit, and CDs are available in local stores.

Zoo guests can select a tag, purchase the item, and bring it back to the Zoo to place under the tree. The Enrichment Tree is set up at the entrance to the Zoo gift shop.

Enrichment activities are used by zookeepers to stimulate natural behavior. In the wild, animals keep busy searching and foraging for food, exploring scents from animals and plants, and interacting with their environment.  Enrichment is an important part of animal care that helps keep Zoo residents healthy and happy.

For more information about the Enrichment Tree, contact Diane Paluzzi at (757) 441-2374, ext. 223 or email diane.paluzzi@norfolk.gov.

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