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Cleveland Metroparks Zoo ‘enrichment’ at annual creature comforts event

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How do you titillate a tiger, keep a bear from being bored or keep an otter frisky? “Enrichment” is a Zoo technique used by the animal keepers at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo to engage the animals they care for while mimicking natural behaviors by manipulating the animal’s environment.

On Sunday, August 9, 2014 visitors will be able to see a variety of enrichment techniques used at the Zoo during the annual “Creature Comforts” event. There is no question that our Zoo is home to a large variety of different animals from a 16 foot giraffe to a foot long Northern Spider Tortoise.

By matching the enrichment technique to each animal, the keepers can enhance the lives of the animals by keeping them healthy in a mental and physical sense. The techniques can be as simple as placing the food in a different area of the environment, setting up foraging opportunities up to moving giant logs around in the elephant environment. By using these techniques, the keepers can demonstrate just how creative and challenging their jobs can be.

Special Creature Comforts activities are scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Past enrichment demonstrations have included papier-mache prey for predators to pounce on, treat-stuffed barrels on bungee cords for the grizzly bears and puzzle feeders for primates.

Check clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo closer to the day of the event for a more detailed schedule of activities.

Animal keepers will be on hand to explain the enrichment activities and the natural behaviors they promote. Guests can learn more about enrichment during one of the Zoo's live animal shows in the Savanna Theater and Ballarat Theatre, which will highlight training techniques that help Zoo staff provide the best animal care.

Northeast Ohio's most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.

For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com/zoo or call (216) 661-6500.

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