The Zoo's Halloween Event, Boo at the Zoo is an event that has been a favorite of mine for many years. My love for Animals and Pumpkins fused together! Over the years, seeing the Animals not only have fun with Pumpkins, but with other fun Halloween themed Enrichment, was a fun time both for me and especially for the Animals.
In the past the Animals would get both un-carved Pumpkins to play with and carved Pumpkins with food treats in them. The "fun" part of the events has dwindled through the years, down to this past year. I went to the Event yesterday and in my opinion the "fun" was none (for the Animals) except the Chimps. I will say that I didn't see all the Animals who were scheduled to receive treats, but I saw four of the big attraction Animals and two were a complete letdown. The Animals may not know, but I know for them.
I went to Chimps first and their area was decorated and had carved Pumpkins with treats in them. Keepers Amy and Dana did a great job! Special mention to Cobby who quite enjoyed tossing a Pumpkin lid outside the enclosure! He didn't seem upset and sat there peacefully after seemingly pleased with his fun :) ... Next I saw Asian Rhino Gauhati. When Gauhati saw his Pumpkin he ran! Only to get there and be disappointed by it being, just a Pumpkin. Sure a Pumpkin is something different and he could and probably would play with it (eventually), BUT I have seen his Halloween Enrichment before and he has had a few Pumpkins and some were carved with his Celery and other treats put thru holes and sticking out of the Pumpkin. THAT is how to do a fun Enrichment. I'm not sure whose responsibility it is to think up the Enrichments, so I won't point any fingers, but I do know the Keepers work with what they get, and there is at least one Staffer whose job is Enrichment. So, in my opinion, this boils down to plain laziness on someone's part. That said, poor Gauhati had little Holiday fun, and enjoyed his shower more. I never saw him touch the Pumpkin. (update monday 10.29 - big thank you to Keeper Ingrid who gave him a carved one with treats in it yesterday!) ... Then I went to Big Cats. The only thing they had was a carved Pumpkin. They did have treats in them, so I'm not faulting this effort, although you can see by photos, past efforts were "more". Laying out a theme on hay (scented hay even better) would have made it special for them. ... Last I went to see Tucker the Hippo. In the past I remember one of the best sights was watching them chomp on whole Pumpkins and I'm pretty sure Tucker had a Pumpkin last year. This year, Tucker got a couple Apples and what looked like a Bell Pepper. Seriously?? Three pieces of produce that he probably gets everyday anyway? Awful.
I had planned to go again today, but honestly, aside from being able to eat a dozen pieces of candy and see hundreds of kids in costumes, it was barely more than just another day at the Zoo.
Tallulah reaching for treats
"Is this it?"
Tiger Cubs 2008
In 2010 my friend Lee and I were making Enrichment Toys from Feb-Oct. Some of the last things we did on a regular basis were Halloween themed. We made them for the weekends prior to the Zoo's annual event, as we didn't want to interfere with what they had going on. .... Horrifically, what they had going on, turned out to be a mess that included giving one of the Lions a box with huge staples and cellophane tape. More information about Enrichment Toys here: http://sanfranciscozoocrime.blogspot.com/2012/05/san-francisco-zoo-you-sure-have-got.html
Here are some photos of the Toys we made. ...
Ming Wah 2010
Halloween Toy Bonanza!
You can see the Big Cats
having fun on
"Heads in the Grass" Day
All the photos shown here, both the Zoo's previous efforts and the ones Lee and I produced, are what this and all Holiday Events should reflect. An event should be a celebration. Enrichment items given should be different than something they would get any day. Something they could have fun with. Toys and Pumpkin WITH treats, THAT = a Halloween Enrichment presentation.