For weeks, or maybe just days, people have wracked their brains trying to find the just-right gift for family and friends.
But what if you consider animals at the Louisville Zoo your friends, too? The zoo is accepting gifts this month for some of the zoo animals, and it’s also offering a wish list — of sorts — for them.
The local chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers is helping animals at the Louisville Zoo get holiday gifts that enrich their lives.
As it’s done for the past couple of year, the association is displaying an “enrichment tree” at the zoo. On the tree are tags listing gift ideas for various animals. The idea is for people to buy items that enrich the animals’ lives.
Steven Taylor, who oversees the animal department at the Louisville Zoo, said each gift is tailored to the kinds of activities that suit natural behavior and the individual personalities of each animal.
“You start with what do you know about the animal as a species, and then what do you know about the animal as an individual, and then you look at what you would like that animal to do,” said Taylor.
The tree wish list also includes a trampoline for the goats, bubbles for the grizzly bears and non-toxic paint and artists’ canvasses for the orangutans.
Qannik, a nearly 5-year-old polar bear, is slated to get a marshmallow shooter.
“The marshmallow is a treat that the bears like,” Taylor said.
“If we can launch a marshmallow and have that animal work away, that’s always something that’s fun to do.”
Other items of the wish list: yogurt-covered raisins for the giraffes and a “sturdy” wood back-scratcher for big cats.
“One of the important things when you do enrichment or you do training it’s trying to give the animals the opportunity to have some control,” Taylor said. “Be able to make decisions about what they want to do, where they want to be, how they want to live that life that particular day.”
To participate, people can stop by the Louisville Zoo, grab a tag with a named item off the tree, purchase the item and return it to the zoo’s receptionist desk by Dec. 31.
WFPL News producer Laura Ellis contributed to this story.