Every day, the North Carolina Zoo’s keepers work to make life more interesting for the animals in their care. Keepers want to see their animals playing, resting, stalking, swimming, tracking, jumping — doing all kinds of things that come naturally to their wild relatives. Keepers stir up this action by switching toys, treats, scents and other surprises inside the exhibits.
By adding variety and some challenges to the animals’ days, the keepers get the animals exercising and solving problems—which makes for healthier and happier zoo animals.
Planning the activities, and watching to see how the animals respond, is good for the keepers, too. It improves their understanding of the animals and can strengthen their relationships with the animals, too.
If you have pets, try using some keeper tricks to make life more interesting for them. Your pets will have fun and so will you. Click here to print the full activity sheet.
Close at Home
Almost every dog, and even some cats, enjoy sitting on your lap or sitting beside you to listen while you talk or read to them. If you rub your cat’s chin softly or stroke your dog gently while you speak, that will likely make your pet even happier. You will feel happier, too.
Visit the ASPCA Professional Page (www.aspcapro.org) and Science Buddies (sciencebuddies.org, The Cat’s Meow) to read more about these and other ways to enrich your relationship with your pets.
Enrichment activities for cats and dogs! Try these at home.
- Paper towel tube
- Pair of scissors
- Handful of your pet’s daily food ration (dry food only)
Get a grownup to help you punch some holes in the center portion of the tube. Make sure that the holes are each a little bit larger than the pieces of dry kibble. Fold up the bottom of the tube. Scrunch it tightly closed. Scoop the kibble into the top of the tube, then fold it over, and scrunch it tightly closed, too. Now, give your dog or cat the tube and let them work to get out the kibble. If you don’t have a paper towel tube, you can make similar enrichment toys by scrunching up a piece of newspaper and hiding kibble inside or by putting some kibble inside a small, paper lunch bag and folding over the top. Both cats and dogs will have fun digging out the kibble bits.
- An ice cube tray
- Some kibble
- Some chicken broth
On a hot day, fill up an ice cube tray with the broth. Drop a kibble or two in each ice cube section and freeze. Take a cube out every day or so to let your pet play with it outside.
Kids Week is presented by The North Carolina Zoo
Visit the North Carolina Zoo and connect with wildlife from two different continents as you explore 500 acres of exhibits carefully constructed to resemble natural habitats. Walk from Africa’s grasslands to North America’s Arctic coast and learn how the Zoo works to conserve and protect wild things and wild places.
For tickets and additional information, visit nczoo.com.
The North Carolina Zoo
4401 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, N.C. 27205