It’s a warm fall day and Glenda Misurelli is using a green apple to coax five-month-old moose, Maple, into her habitat at the Calgary Zoo as curious visitors look on. Glenda, a lead keeper in Canadian Wilds, picks up one of the apples and waves it enticingly. Previously disinterested, this seems to get the young moose’s attention. After all, who can resist a crisp apple in the middle of autumn?
She stayed offsite at the zoo’s Animal Care Centre until she was ready to inhabit her new home in Canadian Wilds. Now an official resident of the zoo, Maple always has the option to move between her public habitat and private area back-of-house. While sometimes shy, Maple is settling in well to her new home.
“She seems to enjoy seeing the public and being out in the open,” says Colleen Baird, General Curator at the zoo. “She walks around quite a bit and explores. She’s transitioning well.”
A large part of this successful transition is thanks to the dedication of the zoo’s Animal Care team. They have worked closely with Maple to help her develop the skills every moose needs, like how to use her prehensile lips to grab food. Many of these skills are taught through Maple’s enrichment (voluntary snacks provided in addition to an animal’s normal diet that offers mental and physical stimulation). Browse, for example, may seem like a simple form of enrichment, but it’s a great tool for encouraging Maple to use natural behaviours and to engage with her habitat.
The key for our keepers is to make things challenging enough to engage Maple but not so difficult as to cause her frustration. As Maple grows, becoming more curious and confident in her surroundings, our keepers may begin to offer Maple new enrichment opportunities like nose-it balls.
You can visit the charming young moose in her habitat in Canadian Wilds and see her enrichment every Thursday at 12:30 p.m. during our Animal Snackers program.