Saturday, December 10, 2011
Zookeepers and volunteers decorated exhibits with wrapped presents for the animals to celebrate the holiday season.
"That's really neat to watch them and to feel like we can do something nice for them at Christmas time," said Carolyn Kliewer, parent who brought her two teenaged children.
Dozens of families celebrated the season of giving with animals at the zoo. Many of the creatures went wild looking for their treats.
"They just get so excited. It's so much fun for them to watch. I think for parents to watch the chimps and think 'That's just what my kids look like on Christmas morning too,'' said Kliewer.
The Kliewer family has made this an annual tradition. They visit the zoo for the "Season's Treatings" event.
"I think it's great because they may not know what it is. They may have no idea why they're getting presents but it's good for children because it shows that the spirit of giving is in Christmas," said Christopher Kliewer.
Zookeepers spent weeks making special holiday decorations for the animals, like a Rockefeller Center display for the gorillas. They said this was as much a treat for the visitors, as it was for the animals.
"It's nice to see them get to enjoy it as well. That's the main reason we're doing it. But we tend to theme everything and decorate everything up also for the guest's perspective," said Scott Laplante, zookeeper for the gorilla forest.
These animal enrichment activities come around twice a year, in December and near the Easter holiday.
Zookeepers said it was beneficial for animals like gorillas to explore and ravage through their gifts.
"It does help their psychological well being," said Laplante. "They have an innate need to break stuff and everything, so that also provides ample opportunity for that."
The Sedgwick County Zoo is open throughout the holiday season. Zoo hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., November through February.