Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Space and Visibility?
Written by: Zookeeper Lizzy

I recently read through our visitor surveys and the two biggest suggestions people had were to make the animals more visible and to give them bigger exhibits. These are both very important and probably the two biggest things zookeepers work on everyday. Sometimes it is very hard to make both of these suggestions work. When animals have very large exhibits it is often times very hard to see them because somehow animals can always find that one little spot of shade and they curl up and fall asleep! As zookeepers it is our job to try and persuade the animals to sit in spots where our guests can easily see them.

Take the Bald Eagle, Liberty, for example. I often look at his exhibit and try to think of new places to put perches where he will feel comfortable standing but is also readily visible. We never force our animals to do anything they don’t want to do so if they choose to lay in that back corner to sleep make sure you stop and take a good hard look around the exhibit to try and see them. All animals are great with camouflage even in a man made exhibit.

Some of the animals that are easier to see do have a little bit smaller exhibits. It would be great if we could give all the animals acres and acres to roam. To make up for smaller spaces we give the animals lots of enrichment! Enrichment is a fancy way of saying that we give them something different to explore, play with or eat everyday. For example, one day we’ll give the lions a toy and the next day we’ll give them a bone. Some days we even hide another animal’s fur around their exhibit so they have to investigate the strange smell. We do this to make their days as fun and exciting as possible. So if you’re ever walking by an exhibit and see something strange it is probably a new toy for our furry friends!

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