AP NEWS

Jingle Paws provides Christmas presents to the animals

December 9, 2018

SCOTTSBLUFF — Tyke, the resident raccoon at Riverside Discovery Center, wanders around his enclosure looking for peanut butter and other treats. The spider monkeys take turns looking at a National Geographic magazine. The animals at the zoo look forward to Christmas each year because they enjoy receiving presents as much as humans do.

When members of the community bring the animals presents to play with, they are helping to enrich the animals’ lives. The generosity of the public helps give the animals extra enrichment toys and food and the animals love the wide variety of items from the community.

“A lot of the animals love the peanut butter, cereal, canned fruits and veggies, and toys that folks donate,” said Anthony Mason, zoo director. “These gifts allow us to continue to operate an engaging and active enrichment program that benefits their physical and mental well-being.”

Hunters can also continue to bring their deer and goose meat to the zoo. Meat donations can be made any time of the year provided it’s completely fresh or if it’s been frozen, that is if it has never been unfrozen. Hunters will need to bring their tags and permit numbers with them when making a donation.

During “Jingle Paws,” there will be an enrichment tree at the zoo and Planet Bounce where you can pick an ornament tag with the name of an item to purchase.

“They have suggested items on them, but people can also look at the list and drop items off at the zoo or Planet Bounce,” Mason said.

Jingle Paws is a major reason the zoo can provide stimulating items to the animals all year long. Decreased foot traffic in the winter means the items donated are provided during the time of year when the zoo needs the community’s support the most.

In addition to enrichment items, gift cards are always appreciated.

“The zoo operates on a shoestring budget at the best of times,” he said. “Gift cards allow us to purchase toys and food for the animals and other supplies that the zoo needs to function.”

As cost continue to rise, donations of items, gift cards, food and cash allow the zoo to continue to exist for the community.

“This program is incredibly important to the animals, but also the general well-being of the zoo,” Mason said. “With Wild Lights going on, folks can also bring any donations with them when they come to check out the Wild Lights.”

Items are appreciated this time of year, but the zoo can accept any of the items year round.

The list can be viewed online at http://riversidediscoverycenter.org/. Items can be dropped off at Riverside Discovery Center, 1600 S. Beltline Hwy W., Scottsbluff, or at Planet Bounce in the Monument Mall. For more information about Wild Lights or Jingle Paws, contact the zoo at 308-630-6236