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Animal Enrichment Photos: Tamarins & Red Pandas
Enrichment is an important part of an animal keeper’s daily work here at the Zoo. When you visit the Zoo, you may have the opportunity to see the animals enjoy a toy, special treat or activity. This enrichment stimulates the animals’ mental and physical activity by increasing healthy natural behaviors. It provides an essential piece of an animal’s training and development.
I had the opportunity earlier this week to catch up with Jessie Lowry, one of the Zoo’s small mammals animal keepers, to see the tamarins and red pandas experience their daily enrichment.
When you visit the Zoo, you’ll find the tamarins in the Discovery Center. They love meal worms and crickets, so Jessie filled a bucket with worms and added some bright toys in for color.
Worms for the tamarins, yum.
Enrichment bucket filled with worms and toys.
The Zoo’s two golden-headed tamarins from Brazil, José and Nut Monkey (yes, that’s her name), new instantly what was up and headed towards the bucket. They made a high-pitched squeaking sound Jessie says they make when they’re excited, and they promptly dove in.
José and Nut Monkey dig into the enrichment bucket.
And they ate. They dug through and ate until the worms were gone.
They were happy tamarins!
We moved on to the red pandas, which were inside during this frigidly cold winter weather. (Negative 20 wind chills? Seriously, ugh.) The red pandas can be outside during the winter, but the sub-zero temperatures sent them into their indoor exhibit in the Discovery Center.
Jessie prepared a foraging board filled with craisins, one of their favorite snacks. The board, made out of a welcome mat, allows Jessie to dig in the snacks (so they have to try to dig them out), and it provides a texture for them to scratch their paws, or even their backs.
Foraging board made out of a welcome mat for the red pandas.
Red pandas also eat bamboo and monkey biscuits. Fun fact: the three pandas eat 80+ biscuits per day!
I snapped a photo of Razz and Berry from outside the exhibit, while Kitar waited on a top branch for her turn.
Razz and Berry dig into the mat for the craisins.
Jessie brought the camera into the exhibit to capture photos without the glare. They sure enjoyed their afternoon snack!
Finally, I’ll leave you with this:
Disco ball enrichment for the squirrel monkeys. Yes, really.
Yes, that is a disco ball. This was something new we tried to see how the squirrel monkeys would react, hoping to provide mental stimulation. They did sneak to the edge of the cage and climb it – but I think that may have been because we turned out the lights, and they wanted to see what we were doing.
They move so fast, and it was dark, so I wasn’t able to get a good photo. Needless to say, it was pretty interesting – and fun! Stay tuned to the blog to see what enrichment we try next!