Zoo Animals Open Wishlist Surprises

The Santa Barbara Zoo beasties have an enrichment toy dream list.

ONLINE LOVE: The internet wishlist is a rather funny thing, given that it can often seem as though we look at our own wishlists far more than our loved ones do. We go in, add books, delete albums, groom it and change it and think about what we might like to get for some future birthday or graduation celebration. But there is an online wishlist that people are indeed checking, which is lucky news for the wishlist's furry, roaring, yowly recipients. The Santa Barbara Zoo keeps an Amazon wishlist for its resident beasties, and, nope, the latest hot boy band poster isn't on there, nor the buzzed-about novel of the year. Rather, it is plum full of enrichment toys that zoo fans may buy and donate to the zoo if they so wish. And by "enrichment toys" we're talking about those playthings and items that keep animals busy and engaged.

ON THE LIST: An Omega Paw Tricky Treat Ball is one suggestion, as are a few creative dog toys. An anonymous donor's gift made the zoo's Facebook page on Friday, Dec. 19, in fact, when the institution posted a photo of a golden lion tamarin peeking at a Kong inside a freshly opened cardboard delivery box. It's tempting to anthropomorphize animals, indeed, but we can't help but think the tamarin has the same look that we all do when we open a new box. "Oh goody, what's in here, something I'll like?" Yeah, we all share that look.

ANIMAL ENRICHMENT: The zoo has a page devoted to its enrichment program, and how it keeps its denizens' minds active and their hands/beaks/paws busy. One such enrichment plaything caught a lot of sci-fi fans' hearts back in November: Staffers built a Doctor Who-style TARDIS for two female African lions, complete with non-toxic paint. It still looks like a big blue scratch pole to us, which we love, or maybe one of those carpeted playhouses cats like to jump around. It turns out enrichment is fun, indeed, and getting mind-busy toys in boxes is a pleasure for species beyond humankind.

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