Love was in the air at the Zoo's Small Mammal House over Valentine’s Day weekend 2010. Keepers provided the animal residents with hand-crafted valentines and heart-shaped treasures unlike anything from any greeting card company or chocolatier.
These holiday treats were all given as a form of “enrichment”—items that make an animal’s environment stimulating or challenging through the use of toys, scents, puzzles, and anything else that might provide novelty.
To provide enrichment, the keepers created heart-shaped treats (some frozen) made of a variety of foods including beet juice (hence the red color), pureed apples, grapes, and bananas. In other instances, they wrapped up some small mammal favorites: meal or wax worms in bright Valentine’s Day decorative paper, allowing the animal to mentally and physically decipher how to get to their goodies.