One of my favorite parts of the job is enrichment. Animals in captivity can get bored, so we provide activities that help them live a happy life. For wolves, we’ll spray different scents around the exhibit because they love anything that stimulates their sense of smell. Primates, like monkeys and apes, are really smart. So we might give them a ball with treats inside. They have to figure out how to get the snacks.
One time we strung up a cow hide for our snow leopards. They’re hunters, and the hide let them simulate attacking prey. The baby snow leopard would leap off ledges to try to reach the hide. Things like that bring out the animals’ natural instincts, which is really cool to see.
A lot of the animal species at the zoo are endangered. They’re at risk of dying out in the wild, so zoos have breeding programs to help the species survive. We witness a lot of births as zookeepers; seeing baby animals never gets old.