Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Environmental Enrichment

Environmental enrichment is just as important for domestic animals as for exotics. Farm animals too must have the opportunity to express species-typical behaviors and receive social stimulation. At the hands-on Kids' Farm, where you can groom a miniature donkey or scratch a Holstein's head, the public serves as living enrichment for the animals. Keepers also provide toys and training to socialize and stimulate the farm animals.


The Kids' Farm's resident bovines have free access to outdoor yards and friendly pats from Zoo visitors. When the cows need a satisfying back scratch, they rub up against a groomer (it looks like the head of a push broom), which keepers have affixed to the outer wall of their shed. The cows also entertain themselves with a hanging Jolly Ball®, which they bat around with their noses.

Goats and Miniature Donkeys

Thanks to their rugged, sure-footed ancestors, goats are agile climbers and balance well on their rear legs. Keepers place tall, inverted buckets throughout the Caring Corral to encourage climbing. It is common to see goats perched on top of them like kings of the mountain.

Miniature donkeys are also given buckets and hard plastic Boomer Balls®, which they kick around their yard or carry around in their mouths. Keepers may tie pieces of carrot or apple to sticks placed around the yard to increase natural foraging and exploration. Finally, visitors can groom goats and donkeys in the Caring Corral.