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Animals like to play, too!

bobcatleopardball3 Let’s Play! photo credit: Karl Rebenstorf

Hey Critter Fans! We’ve been having quite a busy summer this year. The animals have been enjoying some of the cooler days recently. Do you have children who like to play? We do! many of our animals are quite playful and would love some new toys for playtime. If you are interested in helping our critters play, we are always looking for donations of fun items. We love seeing happy animals and they love being happy animals. By adding toys to their enclosures and exhibits, they tend to be a bit more active and entertaining as long as it’s not nap time. Sound familiar? I’m sure that many parents, of children and animals, enjoy watching their children play. It makes life a bit more interesting and keeps the kids and critters happy and entertained. Often, when we place a new toy or item in with our animals, as long as it seems safe for them to play with, the animals reward us with amusing antics. Have you ever heard of the term “enrichment”? At many facilities there are enrichment programs that keep captive animals happy and content. Enrichment entails providing stimulating and exciting activities that mirror the animals’ lives out in the wild. Here, at the museum, our animals are well taken care of and we do the best we can to keep them content. Much of what the animals would be doing in the wild includes foraging for food, protecting a territory from invaders, finding a suitable “house” to stay safe when a storm or bad weather threatens, or it’s time to raise babies. Here, the animals have much of that provided for them which enables them to live longer lives as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Because of this, we like to offer them opportunities for demonstrating wild behavior and tendencies. We do this by scheduling enrichment. Many of the critters enjoy playing with toys that we provide for them. Some of the same toys that your pets at home play with have applicability with our family of animals here at the museum. If you are interested in helping our animals have a good time, we are often looking for donations of items that will keep our critters active and happy. Items we are interested in taking for our animal enrichment program include: Kong toys, all sizes. Gift cards to pet stores, Lowes, Home Depot, Farm Fresh, Tractor Supply Company, Costco, Walmart, or the same type of place. Boomer balls and similar products, which can be ordered online. Jolly Balls, which can be ordered online as well, or gotten at pet stores and tack stores.

jolly ballA jolly ball at the coyote exhibit

We can use colognes, perfumes, spices, or natural oils. The bobcat is particularly fond of Axe Body Spray and Obsession cologne,or similar designer imposter sprays. Large appliance boxes for making giant hidey holes. Deer or Duck decoys. Battery-powered animal toys, like barking dogs or quacking ducks which the animals can enjoy watching outside of their enclosures. Hollow tree stumps to place in the exhibits for climbing and hiding. Non-toxic children’s washable poster paint, such as the brand Rich Art. The raccoons have been taught to “paint” with these, and some of the other animals enjoy this too. Another resource for enrichment items for wildlife are items from the site They have many items that the critters might enjoy.

skunkbed I love my hidey hole!

If you are interested in encouraging our animals to play, with your generous donations, our critters can have more playtime! If you have any questions, feel free to call the animal information line for further information. Thank you for your time. Until next time, so long from Critter Corner.

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