RETRO LANES AND BIG HEARTS: Enrichment toys and activities have become major buzzwords in recent years at zoos and animal parks and those preserves dedicated to protecting endangered beasties. The residents of the park are given a host of objects, items that might include boxes or balls or puzzles or treat tubes or whatever else might keep them engaged and their minds active. Of course, the objects are well-suited and hand-picked by keepers, and balls are only given to those animals that might want to play with them and puzzles to those furry cuties who've shown a knack for sorting out brain teasers. But, as of yet, no bowling alley has ever been set up for a parrot or a koala or a tortoise, at least that we know about (perhaps they have their own informal games going on, just behind the scenes). That doesn't mean that bowling doesn't play an important part in some animals' lives, however. The gibbons of the Gibbon Conservation Center in Saugus benefit greatly by the alley + pins + three-holed ball + skills pursuit, and they will again in August when Bowling for Gibbons rolls back around for fans of the expansive preserve. It's a fundraiser, as you might have guessed, and while it doesn't happen at the Santa Clarita-close park, you can keep the happy image of the resident gibbons in your heart as you bowl those strikes.
SUNDAY, AUG. 30... is the date and Santa Clarita Lanes is the bowl, bowl, bowl spot. You can plunk a twenty down for a trio of games, and getting pals and relatives to help you in your cause, donation-wise? That's nice, too. "All the money you earn from your sponsors goes directly to the gibbons!" says the fundraiser info, so that should flood you with a festive spirit. And if helping the gibbons, but not seeing the gibbons that day, leaves you a bit blue, no worries; the founded-in-1976 conservation center is open often for tours. Heard the residents warble in (very loud very dramatic) song? That is worth the visit alone. Of course, you'll want to show up to tell the smallest of the ape family all about your bowling score and the news of the day of the lanes. Gibbons are so very smart and quite interested in visitors. They enrich us and we enrich them, when we say hello and help out, and some more enrichment to go around for all is a very fine thing, indeed.