The Phoenix Zoo started a new Zoo-wide enrichment project recently! It was a popular topic during the 2017 International Conference for Environmental Enrichment in Colombia. The general consensus was that zoos should be encouraged to place increasingly movable exhibit furniture, also known as “dynamic branches,” as permanent enhancement and/or enrichment.

It was found, for example, that most carnivore species around the world lack moving “furniture.” We immediately examined the habitats at the Phoenix Zoo and the functionality within them. Thus, a dynamic “branch” program was subsequently approved by Zoo management and a fundraiser program was started.

We have received a generous donation from Matt and Mary Palenica for the bobcat habitat and both jaguar habitats.

The bobcat project has already begun. Operation Technician, Doug Woodall, started to install the branches to create a spider web-looking structure on which the animal will not only need to balance, but also use unique and varying muscles. The project will be completed soon!

The second part of the project will be installing feeding poles – again, to make our animals “work” harder for their food and encourage even more exercise. Our veterinarians are especially excited for these new programs as they’ll undoubtedly keep the animals’ bodies in tip-top condition.