Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Enrichment Day

Enrichment Day

Event Details

When: Wednesday, March 27

Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Location: Smithsonian's National Zoo

This event is free and open to the public

Enrichment day will be held rain or shine

Ever wonder how the Smithsonian's National Zoo keeps all 2,000 animals engaged, happy, and healthy? Then join Zoo keepers and animals in celebrating Enrichment Day: Something for Everyone! Enrichment is an integral part of how the Zoo cares for its animals every day. In fact, it's just as important as nutrition and veterinary medicine! Why?

  • It provides stimulating environments for Zoo animals
  • It encourages animals to demonstrate their natural behaviors
  • It allows animals to exercise choice and control over their environment

At Enrichment Day, visitors can watch animal enrichment demonstrations, talk with keepers and FONZ volunteers, and participate in family-oriented games and crafts. They'll also get to see and explore enrichment that is only used behind-the-scenes.

This FREE, family-friendly event takes place March 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be held rain or shine.

To see the full list of activities, click on the Activity Schedule below.

Enrichment Activity Schedule (Click to Expand)

Time Enrichment Demo
10 a.m.Small mammal enrichment and keeper talk (Small Mammal House)
10 a.m.Red river hog enrichment (Cheetah Conservation Station red river hog exhibit)
10:15 a.m.River otter enrichment and keeper Q&A (American Trail river otter exhibit
10:30 a.m.Lemur food enrichment and keeper talk (Lemur Island)
10:30 a.m.Cheetah feeding (Cheetah Conservation Station)
10:30 a.m.Asian small-clawed otter enrichment (Asia Trail Asian small-clawed otter exhibit)
10:45 a.m.Elephant enrichment and keeper q&A (Inside the Elephant Community Center)
10:50 a.m.Fishing cat enrichment (Asia Trail fishing cat exhibits)
11 a.m.Bird enrichment (Indoor flight room inside Bird House)
11 a.m.Cheetah lure course session (Cheetah Conservation Station)
11 a.m.Orangutan given O-line access (O-line)
11 a.m.Help groom a goat or donkey (Kids' Farm Caring Corral)
11 a.m.Andean bear enrichment (Andean bear exhibit)
11 a.m.Lion and/or tiger enrichment (Great Cats Circle)
11 a.m.Elephant training demo and trek walk (Elephant Outpost)
11:10 a.m.Clouded leopard training demo (Asia Trail clouded leopard exhibit)
11:15 a.m.Giant river fish enrichment (First floor of Amazonia)
11:30 a.m.Gorilla training session (Great Ape House)
11:30 a.m.Sloth bear demo and keeper talk (Asia Trail sloth bear exhibit)
11:45 a.m.Baby Cuban crocodile target training (Reptile Discovery Center Cuban crocodile exhibit)
12:15 p.m.Primate enrichment (Amazonia Amazon forest exhibit)
12:30 p.m.Octopus enrichment (Invertebrates exhibit)
12:45 p.m.Caiman lizard target training and enrichment (Reptile Discovery Center Caiman lizard exhibit)
1 p.m.Rhea enrichment (Outdoor Bird House rhea exhibit)
1:15 p.m.Orangutan research demo (Think Tank)
1:30 p.m.Elephant enrichment (Inside and outside of Elephant Community Center)
1:30 p.m.Help groom a goat or donkey (Kids' Farm Caring Corral)
1:30 p.m.Andean bear enrichment (Andean bear exhibit)
1:30 p.m.Lion and/or tiger enrichment (Great Cats Circle)
1:30 p.m.Vulture enrichment (Oryx/gazelle exhibit)
1:30 p.m.Giant panda enrichment and keeper talk (Asia Trail giant panda exhibit)
1:45 p.m.Green tree monitor enrichment (Reptile Discovery Center green tree monitor exhibit)
2 p.m.Small mammal enrichment and keeper talk (Small Mammal House)
2 p.m.Goliath tarantula live feeding (Invertebrate House)
2 p.m.Maned wolf enrichment (Maned wolf exhibit)
2 p.m.Grey wolf enrichment and keeper Q&A (American Trail grey wolf exhibit)
2 p.m.Gibbon food enrichment and keeper talk (Gibbon ridge)

Activities at the Great Meadow

  • Enrichment Mystery Box
  • Forage and Feast
  • Secret Scents
  • Enrichment at Home
  • What is Enrichment?

The Smithsonian's National Zoo Enrichment program includes:

  • Exhibit design: provides a variety of substrates, levels, and complexities
  • Training: interaction with the keeper and proper training allows an animal to choose to participate
  • Olfactory: a keeper can introduce natural predator or prey scents, in addition to novel smells or pheromone scents
  • Auditory: taped sounds or vocalizations can simulate things that an animal may hear in the wild
  • Food related: keepers can present food in a variety of ways such as in a simple puzzle feeder, hidden throughout the enclosure, scattered about the enclosure, or buried in a substrate
  • Novel objects: various items placed in an animal's enclosure allow the animal to mimic behaviors exhibited in the wild or could challenge them. These items could include burlap bags, sheets, boomer balls, chew toys, or a hammock
  • Research: Participation in a research projects offers mental stimulation

Help us enhance the lives of our animals

Animal enrichment wish list

The above activities are subject to change.