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Preparing for Holiday Treats!

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Animal Updates | Enrichment

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


It’s that time of year again, when lots of busy hands work to craft, cut, hammer, glue, and build all sorts of wondrous presents. I’m not talking about elves making toys for children…. It’s time for the enrichment volunteers and staff to make Holiday Treats for our Animals!

Every year we have a holiday festival where we give the animals all sorts of festive and delicious treats. In past Holiday Treats for the Animals weekends, many of you have seen the snow and snowman for the otters), the garlands for the Lorikeets, and the ice wreaths for the seals and sea lions.

However, not many people know all of the work that goes into this weekend of fun! Enrichment interns, volunteers, and staff actually start thinking about treats for the animals back in August, when almost no one is thinking about Christmas (except those few people who have their Christmas shopping done in July…). We start brainstorming new ideas, collecting supplies, and crafting as many of the paper decorations as we can ahead of time (though it’s hard to find a place to store everything).

While edible ice wreaths and snow are already animal safe, when we make paper chains, ornaments, and wrapped “present” enrichments they have to be made with safe materials. This means no staples or tape, so we use flour paper mache to create all of the non-edible enrichments in the exhibits. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time. Groups of enrichment volunteers and interns began gathering in September to sit around and craft paper ornaments and mache chains. So far, I think I’ve mached about 4 times my own height in recycled paper garlands, but I still have a week left to make more!

Just before the big weekend, we have our own version of the “holiday rush” with dozens of helpers freezing buckets and bins full of colored, fishy ice in holiday shapes and other edible treats. It takes some skill to maneuver in our restaurant-style freezer around all of the carefully packed bins of Holiday Treats.

When it comes to the treats, we definitely make the tried and true enrichments that we know the animals will love, like crab legs, stuffed paper mache “presents,” snow, and fishy ice treats. But we do like to try out new enrichments and hope they will be an exciting surprise for the animals. This year we’re trying out recycled paper snowflakes (you sure get funny looks when you start cutting paper snowflakes in August), wiffle-ball snowmen, and raffia ornaments!

We really hope that you’ll join us this year on December 7th and 8th for Holiday Treats for the Animals. Come check out our hard work and share in the fun as we watch the animals play with their “presents!”

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