ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – People scrolling through the Albuquerque BioPark Society’s Amazon wishlist benefiting the zoo’s animals will find unusual items like a bowling ball, PVC pipes and a $125 keg.
“What do they need a bowling ball for?” Naomi Malm of Albuquerque asked.
“A lot of this stuff [on the wishlist] is stuff you’d get for like a little toddler,” said Doug Kean of Rio Rancho.
“I have seen stuff in there made with PVC pipes like some of their feeding things,” zoo visitor David Funnell said.
Funnell is right.
The items needed for the zoo’s Enrichment Program are to help with animal welfare and as a way to challenge the animals to stay physically and mentally sharp.
“All of those things are components that we use that are put together and we create these special devices. They’re feeder devices, they’re puzzle boxes,” Dep. CEO of the ABQ BioPark Dr. Baird Fleming, said.
Among the dozens of unusual items, the power tools including drills and hacksaws stood out to many people.
Albuquerque voters are already paying a BioPark tax that went into effect in July 2016. The eighth-of-a-cent gross receipt tax helps pay for BioPark repairs and new exhibits and should generate about $16 million per year.
Many people would think tools would be paid for under the tax, but the BioPark Society said what’s needed for the zoo’s Enrichment Program cannot be bought with BioPark tax dollars.
“That is really specific toward capital improvements,” Dr. Fleming stated. “These aren’t capital improvements. These are enrichment items for our animals.”
The BioPark said it needs to provide Enrichment Exercises in order to keep its zoo accreditation.
In the first six months of 2017, about $6,000 worth of items were purchased from the wish list.