Banfield Pet Hospital, zoo team up to foster animal health

November 8, 2017 - 9:54am

Veterinary practice partners with zoo to help wildlife and promote care for all animals

If you attended the Oregon Zoo's Howloween festivities Oct. 27-28, you may have noticed Banfield Pet Hospital's helpful Halloween-themed pet care tips at the various trick-or-treat stations around the zoo.

Banfield sponsors Howloween and other activities, including Twilight Tuesdays and zoo camps, as part of its signature partnership with the Oregon Zoo. But behind the scenes and away from the spotlight, the connection runs even deeper. Last fall, the zoo and pet hospital joined forces to produce a special cat enrichment guide.

And throughout the year, Banfield volunteers join zoo staff for work in on-grounds beautification, muddy-boots conservation and promoting animal welfare through the zoo's world-renowned environmental enrichment program.

"We love the opportunities our Oregon Zoo partnership provides Banfield Pet Hospital veterinary teams to engage with families and children — and teach the fundamentals responsible pet ownership," said Kim Van Syoc, director of external communications for Banfield Pet Hospital and Oregon Zoo Foundation board of trustees member. "Our associates also appreciate the unique ways Oregon Zoo enables them to simultaneously give back to the local community, connect with animals and improve the environment."

Here are a few ways Banfield has helped the zoo make a difference:

Landscaping projects at the Oregon Zoo

Banfield volunteers assisted zoo horticulture specialists in removing invasive English ivy from around the train trestle; helped spruce up the North Meadow picnic area with new native plants; and cleared weeds along the elephant trail leading from Forest Hall to the north habitat at Elephant Lands.

Quilting for primates

A team from Banfield joined the zoo's Volunteer Enrichment Team in making quilts for primates. Chimpanzees and orangutans use the quilts for bedding, and sometimes even create swings or hammocks out of them, says Asaba Mukobi, the zoo's senior primate keeper. Pockets sewn onto the quilts also provide great places for hiding treats, engaging the apes' curiosity and encouraging natural foraging behaviors. Mukobi cautions quilters not to get too attached to their handiwork though: "Sometimes the orangutans will disassemble the quilt after all the treats are out."

Landscaping at Blue Lake Regional Park

Banfield helped protect trees at Blue Lake Regional Park, while also gathering "browse" — edible leaves and branches — for the zoo's Asian elephants and black rhinos. More than 40 volunteers removed weeds and grass from around the trees, then spread nutrient-rich ZooDoo in the cleared areas for mulch. Volunteers also gathered 33 cubic yards of maple tree cuttings and delivered them to the elephants and rhinos. The leaves and branches lend variety to the pachyderms' diets, and the healthy roughage helps them produce more ZooDoo for future landscaping projects. "Thanks to Banfield Pet Hospital volunteers," said Lupine DeSnyder, volunteer coordinator for Metro Parks and Nature, "for helping the animals at the Oregon Zoo and the trees and Blue Lake Regional Park."

Animal Investigator Camp at the zoo

Banfield veterinarians helped zoo campers explore careers in veterinary medicine, talking about what it takes to be a vet, answering kids' questions and demonstrating the similarities between caring for animals at the zoo and caring for pets at home.