Elephant feeding time offers opportunity for behavioral enrichment

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The majority of our Asian elephants' diet is Bermuda hay, but they do get small amounts of timothy and alfalfa, as well. We recently started giving them something new -- oat hay -- and they absolutely love it. In fact, we usually put it on the far side of the exhibit so they have to walk farther to get the treat.

We've also put in several new hay feeders designed to extend the elephants' foraging time.

Our old cage feeders have been modified so that they are easier to fill with hay. The elephants have to slide their trunks through a hole to grab a small trunk full of yummy hay.

On the fun side, we have a huge jungle ball with a hole in it so they have to roll the ball around to get at the hay -- kind of like a dog with a treat-filled Kong toy.

Their new favorite feeder is a street-sweeper tube stuffed with hay. They have to shake it and bang it on the ground to get the hay out. Talk about working up an appetite!