Enrichment - YOU can help!

Spring is here (even though it may not feel like it), and the animals are looking for some fun. What better way for them to interact and stimulate all senses than by enrichment. 

Here's a crash course on everything you need to know about enrichment, and how YOU CAN help.

What is animal enrichment and why is it important?

Animal enrichments are activities that help to enhance the care that keepers provide throughout the year by creating a more stimulating environment for the animals and eliciting some of their natural behaviors such as exploration, foraging, locomotion, social interaction, manipulating objects or simply playing. 

What does animal enrichment look like?

Visitors will find evidence of enrichment in exhibits all around the zoo, even though the animals may or may not be actively involved at any given time.  As a result, an exhibit might look messy or contain things that are not “natural.”  For example, visitors might see paper bags, cardboard boxes or children’s toys in an exhibit.  Of course, these are not natural items that an animal would come across in the wild.  What is important is the activity elicited in the animals.  

When can visitors see animal enrichment in action?

Zookeepers often give the animals unscheduled enrichments, which may be seen throughout the zoo at any time.  Docents lead scheduled enrichments on a weekly basis and during many special events, barring last-minute changes due to inclement weather or the needs of the animals or zoo staff.  


If you would like to help with enrichment, you can donate supplies noted below in our enrichment wish list:

  • Molasses                                                                     
  • Honey                                                            
  • Baby Food (Fruit, veggie, or meat)                           
  • Cheerios                                                                     
  • Rice Chex                                                      
  • Tubs of Oatmeal                                                        
  • Instant Oatmeal Flavored (NOT sugar-free)
  • Jello (NOT sugar-free)
  • Kool-Aid (NOT sugar-free)
  • Peppermints (starlight)
  • Nature Valley granola bars (oat & honey)
  • Mint Jelly
  • Grape jelly or other fruit flavors
  • Noodles (spaghetti or other shapes)
  • Applesauce
  • Rice
  • Clam juice
  • Anchovy paste
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Oyster crackers
  • Brown lunch bags
  • Small paper cups
  • Dried Corn Husks
  • Yogurt (Not Light)
  • Plain popcorn
  • Dried Fruit (raisins, cherries, apricots, prunes)


  • Perfumes/Colognes
  • Banana
  • Mint
  • Strawberry
  • Orange
  • Vanilla
  • Garlic, Oregano, Rosemary, Cumin, Thyme, Lemon Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger

**Items can be dropped off at the front gate at the zoo


Photo courtesy: Carolyn Schulte

But please remember that while enrichment has been approved as safe and put into exhibits by zoo staff, our zoo visitors should NEVER put anything into animal exhibits. Even harmless looking items (some sticks or leaves) can be dangerous or toxic for some animals.