OAKLAND (KPIX) — In April, 2017, KPIX reported on Kimberly Harris, who had created a vegan product called Fairyella Ice Pops. Made from the juice of fresh fruits and vegetables, that product has generated a lot of interest. It has also generated something else.
“A lot of pulp, a lot of green waste from juicing,” Harris said. “In the past we had just been doing compost with the leftovers from juicing so a green light went on and I contacted the Oakland Zoo,” Harris added.
Sunday morning, one person’s trash became someone else’s treasure — or at least a really fun surprise for the zoo’s fruit-loving denizens.
Workers tossed the watermelon rinds around the baboon enclosure and large Legos stuffed with orange and cucumber pulp were placed out like Easter eggs.
The apes’ alpha male did his best to appear cool but, inside, the excitement rose as the zookeepers finished their task.
“Almost like a kid’s Christmas morning in anticipation of what’s out there,” said zoological manager Adam Fink.
Soon, the feast began.
Modern zoos work hard to keep their charges interested and engaged. Bored animals develop health and behavior problems so zoos offer enrichment exercises like Sunday’s fruit frenzy. Over at the lemur exhibit, the ice pops provided an unfamiliar challenge of handling something frozen.
Enrichment is really important for animals to keep them mentally stimulated. In animal care, keeping animals physically healthy is really the easy part. The mental part is much harder. And what was a treat for the animals became a treat for the visitors, especially Kimberli Harris.
“I almost started crying and I got goosebumps and when I saw the baboons run out and just how excited they were, it was just so cool, it was so emotional. I loved it,” Harris said.
Just by putting a little thought into what she was doing, Harris turned her problem into someone else’s pleasure. It may not be saving the world but it is making a difference.
“Yeah, a little piece at a time. If we all just do a little piece at a time, we can make such a big difference –especially for the future for our children,” she said.