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Keepers try to make days interesting for elephants

Keepers have to be sure elephants, like all animals at the Oklahoma City Zoo, have plenty of entertaining items to keep them mentally stimulated. Enrichment is an important part in the lives of captive animals.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: November 23, 2010 at 10:34 am •  Published: November 19, 2010

Elephants are smart animals, and zookeepers have to create opportunities for mental stimulation and play.

“Anything we can add for them to give them a different experience for the day is really good for them,” said Dorothy Forman, a pachyderm keeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo. “It gets their activity up. It keeps them physically fit and mentally active.”

Zoo staff members create a lot of the toys elephants use, Forman said. For example, the elephants like scratching their backs against a brush off a street-cleaning truck. Keepers hide food inside a basket made of woven fire hoses. A rope net can hold hay and dangle from the ceiling.

“It gives their trunks a good workout,” Forman said.


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