So, where do I begin. I know, that doesn't sound like this is going to be very good. So, two things first. I love my Precious Rhino Friends! I'm lucky to get to experience what Special Beings they are. I usually don't Zoo on the weekend, but went today to support their Species special Day and to witness whether or not Elly got treats, because I knew she would be dissed as usual. Answer is NO Elly did not get treats.
Elly has been banished to the back of the exhibit for a year now (more information on that in my next post). I rarely see her up anymore, but she was up today! She's not stupid, she knew something was happening. Sadly, it just wasn't happening for her. It was heartbreaking to watch Elly trot around in a circle, as she watched Belozi get his treats.
I asked one Keeper if Elly was getting treats and she said maybe later, indicating during the Keeper talk in the afternoon. In my opinion, that isn't good enough. I don't know who decides what and when, but her not getting something at the same time is inexcusable. I'm not blaming this Keeper because as I stated I don't know who's call this was. BUT There is NO reason why Elly couldn't have been given a box of treats at the same time Belozi was. They could have thrown it over to her before they went around to the front to throw Belozi his. There is NO excuse for her having to watch him. When Mishaki was in the front of the exhibit, she had to watch him too. Its horrible.
In an effort to "give info" the other Keeper told people Elly (at 42 yrs old) was the oldest Rhino in a North American Zoo, something they like to boast, yet they couldn't give her a friggin' box? Sorry, but I'm getting really tired of this crap. AND that's exactly what this and other stuff I point out that the Zoo does that disrespects these Animals. Elly is a Grand Dame, and she deserves better treatment.
Let's talk about the Enrichment. Since my friend and I used to make Enrichment Toys, as well I've seen attempts the Zoo has made, in addition to reading everything I can about Enrichment in other Zoos, I do know what kind of creative things can be done for Events. There are different types of Enrichment, but for Events, there should be something fun and Themed. Don't get me wrong, the Animals don't care, they are happy to be getting treats! BUT that doesn't mean that putting those treats in something different (shape, color, size) isn't funner for them and fun for Visitors to see.
The treats today were put in plain boxes the produce comes in. In my opinion thats just plain lazy. You tell me the Zoo couldn't have some Docents at least paint the boxes and write World Rhino Day on them? They had three double-sided signs that were fancier than the Enrichment Boxes. Pathetic. ... And the signs, interestingly noted that Elly had fourteen babies, when their Animal List says she had sixteen. Note that fourteen is MY count, that I always post when referencing. Just saying. Wonder where they are getting their information (and other ideas) from?
I try not to blame the Keepers (at least in this instance), as I think Event Enrichment should be planned by the Curator and the Animal Care VP and/or Event Staff. The Keepers seem to work with what they are given. I guess there's no official Enrichment Staff anymore and the Enrichment Program they slammed the door on us for, is and always was non-existent. No one makes anything fun for these Animals anymore. Keeping them entertained is just not a priority. They sit around bored all the time, and are given the same old things. The only kind of "Toy" type Enrichment I've seen given lately is when there's some kind of 49er thing going on and Belozi gets a box with the logo painted on it, for a photo op. And again only Belozi (who they renamed Boone after the ball player) gets something.
For an Event that is supposed to Celebrate Rhinos and raise awareness for their plight, there sure wasn't much going on. It seemed like this was something they just did to keep up with the Jones. They didn't even have anyone taking photos. They sure go all out when there's a Sports thing going on, but hey, we're only trying to save an Animal Species from going Extinct, its not the Super Bowl or anything. On their Facebook page they even mention the Zip Line before Rhino Day! Disgusting.
At least two out of three Rhinos got some extra treats out of the deal.
Belozi enjoying his treats!
Gauhati enjoying his treats!
Down to the last drop!