The final Enhanced Enrichment day of the summer took place on August 12th in the outdoor enclosure. For this day, Tatu, Dar, and Loulis got to experience a world that we have only lived in video games – Mario World! This theme allowed for immense variety in the enrichment. We focused on creating lots of foraging opportunities and utilizing every part of the enclosure.
As the chimpanzee family first exited the night enclosure, they were met with Tube Land, where they found a large green tube filled with treats.
Below this, a jungle and ocean scene was set up, complete with green streamers and a kiddy pool full of water and plastic toys. Moving up to the terrace, Bowser’s Castle looked out on the rest of the enclosure. We placed another kiddy pool here and filled it with red, yellow, and orange pom-poms to resemble fire and lava.
At the heart of the enclosure, on the large wooden platform, we recreated Peach’s Castle and decorated it with tiaras, elegant clothing, and a plastic vanity with a large mirror. Covering the rest of the ground was Rainbow Road, which included the third kiddy pool full of an assortment of colorful balls.
We laid out rainbow-patterned sheets to lead the path to the cave in the back of the enclosure where glow-in-the-dark stars were stuck on the walls, creating a glowing getaway that Tatu spent a lot of time in throughout the day.
And what would Mario World be without the question mark boxes that appear in all of our favorite Mario games? To recreate these features we decorated a variety of cardboard boxes – either as yellow with question marks or as red with brick patterning. We then hung the boxes up in high places and filled them with bananas, toys, and fun packaging materials.
We baked maple applesauce muffins and decorated them to look like the green and red mushrooms found in Mario games. Loulis and Dar enjoyed all the parts of their muffins, while Tatu just picked out the raisins to eat. Finally, we filled colorful balloons and small plastic Yoshi eggs with almonds, raisins, or small toys and hid them all throughout the enclosure. Dar discovered many of these eggs near his favorite spot on ledge and Tatu was first to pop the balloons and find the goodies inside.
It seems that love for Mario is yet another similarity between humans and chimpanzees! We had just as much fun creating enrichment for this day as the chimpanzees had interacting with it. Overall, it was a successful final apprentice enrichment project to end out the summer!