Animals at the Edmonton Valley Zoo are enjoying homegrown, organic food and herbs after a successful first year for the zoo’s Enrichment Garden.
The project is meant to enhance zoo life for the animals so they can get healthy greens – from lettuce to petunias and almost everything in between – and to visually enhance the zoo.
“Sometimes they eat it, sometimes they just smell it, and sometimes they’ll rub on it. Its just to make life better and act more natural, like they would in the wild,” said zoo team leader Wade Krasnow.
“Enrichment is not a luxury for animals anymore; it’s mandatory. It helps stimulate their mind and their body.”
Thanks to plenty of rain and heat, the garden experienced a stellar first growing season and there are plans to eventually expand the garden to include heartier plants like bamboo.
Both animals and visitors are drawn to the bright colours of the public garden that sits along the boardwalk leading to Arctic Shores.
“Sometimes customers will come by and grab a little snack, but that’s enrichment for them too. … (Animals) react in different ways,” Krasnow said.
Compost and manure is also used to fertilize the garden, keeping it as organic as possible. They still buy most of their produce for the animals, but hope to be able to produce more in the future.
“We know it’s fresh, it doesn’t have any pesticides,” said Krasnow.