Sujatha and Little Mac got their favorite treats on Tuesday — pumpkins!
The Asian elephants at the Santa Barbara Zoo received these giant treats in advance of Thanksgiving Day, when the zoo is open and the two pachyderms and Western lowland gorillas, ground hornbills, barnyard animals, desert tortoises, meerkats, Asian small clawed otters and other zoo residents also receive pumpkins.
The zoo’s carnivores and some scavengers will receive a “Thanksgiving dinner” of raw, plucked turkeys or game hens. This includes African lions, snow leopards, Amur leopard, black-footed cats, plus Griffon and turkey vultures.
Keeper talks will be held at the animals’ exhibits. A schedule of these enrichment activities will be posted at the zoo entrance. The zoo will open at 10 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Tickets will be sold until 2 p.m.
Food, scents and natural objects are used as enrichment to give the animals stimulation and exercise. Enrichment also comes in the form of training the animals to recognize that a certain behavior leads to a reward — most often in the form of food or fun. Training animals to go to a certain area in their exhibit, for example, may allow keepers to examine, administer medication or even weigh the animal.
Click here for more information about the zoo, including operating hours.
— Julia McHugh is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Zoo.