'Mission ImPopsicle': Tulsa Zoo's Enrichment Activity To Keep Animals Cool This Summer

'Mission ImPopsicle': Tulsa Zoo's Enrichment Activity To Keep Animals Cool This Summer

This summer a donation to the Tulsa Zoo means a treat for your favorite zoo animal.

Its goal is to raise $15,000 by National Cherry Popsicle Day on August 26th as part of Mission ImPopsicle. 

To gain momentum for the fundraiser the zoo is celebrating with popsicles for all of its animals on Saturday, July 27. 

Tulsa Zoo Sea Lion Trainer Halle Moore said the treats are enriching for the animals.

"By making ice treats that is something they can forage for, especially if we hide some nice fun treats inside," she said. "For the sea lions it will be fish, for other animals it might be fruit or some other item from their diet."

The fish go inside silicone molds of all shapes and sizes. Moore said they feed them capelin to keep them hydrated and herring to give them the needed fat and calories.

The zookeepers then mix food coloring with water and pour that over the mold, then stick it in the freezer.

Moore said, "The fish is frozen inside, so they obviously need to work to manipulate that ice treat in order to get the fish out of it."

Three sea lions call the Tulsa Zoo home: Cash, Cisco, and Reyes. Moore said each one has their own way of enjoying the ice treats.

"Cisco enjoys picking up the ice treat in his mouth and smashing it onto the ground into smaller pieces, whereas, Reyes, he swims with it in his mouth until it melts enough in order to get that fish out," she said.

Moore joined the staff at the Tulsa Zoo a decade ago but has been working with sea lions for a dozen years.

She said two of the Tulsa Zoo's sea lions were rescued from southern California. Cisco was bit by a shark and Reyes had an infection that made him lose his left eye.

Both were given a second chance at life at the zoo.

"You can really see them engage with their trainers and learning new things so it really keeps them mentally stimulated here," said Moore.

To learn more about Mission ImPopsicle or to donate visit https://tulsazoo.org/popsicle/.