Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sod Day!
Written by: Zookeeper Mary Warner
The other day my morning started off with a wonderful surprise... sod! Just as they had last year, the City of Duluth's Parks and Recreation Department donated unused sod to the zoo. I know sod doesn’t sound very exciting to the average person (unless you happen to be doing some landscaping) but here at the zoo sod is a big deal!

Many of our exhibits are twenty or more years old and were built with a budget in mind. What does this mean? It means concrete, and a lot of it. So when sod comes to the zoo it's quite exciting. Sod presents our animals with novel textures, scents, and even tastes!

The first animals to receive the sod were our two silver fox. The boys loved it. They shoved their noses in it, rubbed and rolled on it, and chased each other around and around their habitat as they often do after getting something new. They continued their playful antics for hours- sod success!

Then it was the North American River Otters who received some sod. I love giving new things to the otters because you never know what will happen! However, sod is one of their favorites. Both otters (after finishing their morning fish) scrambled over to the sod, smelled it, walked over it, and then started manipulating it. One was biting it amd trying to pull it in the water, while the other tried to pull it overhead into a sod tunnel. Throughout the day, they continued to utilize it for play and as a comfy sleeping pad!

Sod day continued, with some surprising results. Harry, the snow leopard, reacted positively by laying down and rubbing on it. This might seem like a small success, but Harry is one of our hardest animals to enrich so anytime he interacts with new stimuli we're thrilled! The Siberian lynx, Felix, didn't care too much... oh well, we can't win every time. And Trouble, the infamous Grizzly bear, made such a mess it took 3 keepers almost an hour to clean up the next day! The bat eared fox kits (now 5 months old) let Dad check it out first, then climbed on to search for any possible insects crawling around (nummy!). Even our puma got in on the action, but of course, not while anyone was watching (in typical cat style!).

Many thanks go to our friends at the Parks department who made this wonderful day possible!

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