The enrichment garden is a 13,000 sq. ft. area in the South America realm which was previously the llama exhibit. This garden will serve a dual purpose. It will provide unusual fruit, vegetables and aromatic browse for the animals and educational value for the visitors.
We will grow unusual and heirloom plants that are rarely seen. Plants such as red eggplant, green corn, red okra, blue squash, Congo watermelons and purple tomatoes are a few examples. The plants will be in public view and graphics will explain and educate visitors on botanical specifics and the idea of animal enrichment. The animals will enjoy the harvest through unique tastes, smell, color and texture. A nice addition to the garden would be a 350 sq. ft. greenhouse. A concrete footing leftover from the llama building could be used for this structure. A greenhouse would allow us to start delicate plants and grow a few tropicals such as the cocoa tree and vanilla orchids. Much of the garden maintenance would be done by volunteers, which would offer another public outreach and educational opportunity.
In fall and winter the crop would consist of exotic greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cranberries and winter squash. The dormant winter plants would be useful as supplemental browse for the animals. The garden would be a year round attraction and continuous enrichment for the animal collection.