Oklahoma City Zoo can fulfill animals' Christmas wishes

The Oklahoma City Zoo has kicked off its Wild Wish List campaign aimed at offering the public a chance to donate enrichment items to their favorite zoo animals.
BY MATT PATTERSON mpatterson@opubco.com Published: December 9, 2012
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There aren't many places where a coffee filter would make an ideal Christmas gift, but it will at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

The zoo has set up its Wild Wish List tree with ornaments visitors can take that tell them what to buy on an animal's wish list. All of the items are geared toward animal enrichment and not day-to-day care. Items can also be purchased on the zoo's wish list at amazon.com.

For example, on the parrot's ornament is a wish for coffee filters. The sea lions have aquatic toys like Boomer Balls and a large inflatable raft that is designed for zoo animals.

“Parrots love color and things that are stimulating,” zookeeper Shannon Ray said. “They like things that can pull apart with their beaks. And on the opposite end you have seals and sea lions who love aquatic toys that they can explore and climb on or push around.”

These aren't typical inflatable beach balls, which Ray said wouldn't last more than five minutes with a sea lion. The Boomer Balls are heavy polyethylene toys that are specially made for large exotic animals.

“These enrichment toys have to be durable,” Ray said. “That durability sometimes makes them expensive but we have a range of options for guests to pick out and donate.”

Veterinarian Alicia Hahn said enrichment of animals is important to their physical and mental well-being. Thought was put into each item, making sure it is specific to a species is important. That can mean giving dig boxes for animals that like to dig or scents that stimulate animals with an acute sense of smell.

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