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TCU helps Fort Worth Zoo to enrich exhibits – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


The class projects from TCU’s Zoo Enrichment class were not just a grade exercise. They were tested in the real world to see if they earned the grade.

“To create an enrichment structure that helps mimic behavior that would be seen in the wild,” said Abi Welch, TCU Zoo enrichment student, explaining the class assignment.

Welch was part of the first student team of TCU To design an enrichment activity structure for elephants.

“It’s amazing! It’s honestly one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever experienced,” Welch said as she watched the elephants play and feed from the browsing arm her team designed. It uses truck shocks to provide resistance and spring as elephants use their trunks to grab branches and straw. “When they come down, it kind of provides a jump back up, and that resistance that you would see in a tree, and that’s exactly what we were looking for.”

“It creates a situation where the elephants are working for their food, but they are also being stimulated mentally and physically,” said Peter Briggs, elephant zoo supervisor at the Fort Worth Zoo.

the Students worked with the zoo To research, design and build their enrichment projects. They integrate art, environment and engineering.

“They show us when they have something going for them when it comes to design,” Briggs said. “But then we have to give our input because we told the animal to. We have to think about how the animal will react to it.”

“This hard work is worth an entire semester,” said Peyton Harper, TCU Zoo enrichment student. “It was completely different from any class I’d been in before.”

Harper was part of the team that designed and built a tree enrichment structure for the colobus monkey exhibit.

“It’s very important for them to have a dynamic space,” said Kylie Cook, a primate zookeeper at the Fort Worth Zoo. “They want to climb and jump and they like to be on top.”

“So we wanted to create this tree structure to display the natural behaviors they do in the wild,” Harper explained. “They’re using it exactly as we expected…so let’s see all this work we’ve done pay off!”

The TCU Zoo Enrichment class works with Fort He deserves Zoo For ten years. This year was the fifth batch to develop enrichment projects for the zoo.



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