Brooklyn, NY – December 11, 2009. Animal enrichment at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is not a new practice. For many years WCS keepers have put effort and creativity into enriching the lives of our animals.  Within the last few years, WCS made a commitment to formal, science-based enrichment programs at all of our wildlife parks, and the Animal Enrichment Program (AEP) was born. The fundamental objective of AEP is to ensure that all animals in the Society’s care receive optimal physical & mental stimulation. “Our curious band of meerkats is not only a visitor favorite, but our keepers love working with them as well”, said Prospect Park Facility Director, Denise McClean.  “Developing interesting objects to keep this group of siblings active and stimulated is pretty easy since they’re fascinated by anything new in their environment.  The holiday season gives us a good excuse to fill boxes with mealworms (a favorite treat) and let the meerkats have fun”.

The meerkat is a small mammal and a member of the mongoose family. It inhabits all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan". A meerkat clan often contains about 20 meerkats at a time, but some super families have had 50 or more. Meerkats have an average life span of 12 to 14 years.

The colors of the holidays come alive as wrapping paper flies through the air at Prospect Park Zoo. Keeping with the spirit of the season, zoo staff and volunteers have been wrapping presents for zoo residents for the wild holiday party taking place every weekend in December at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., both days. Meerkats and baboons enjoy festivities on December 12 and 13 (also December 26 and 27). Then its otters and Pallas cats receive treats on December 19 and 20.

Fran Hackett,, 718-265-3428

Prospect Park Zoo – Open every day of the year. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for seniors 65 and older, $3 for kids 3-12, free for children under 3. Zoo hours are 10am to 5pm weekdays, and 10am – 5:30pm weekends, April through October, and 10am – 4:30pm daily, November through April. The Prospect Park Zoo is located at 450 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. For further information, call 718-399-7339 or visit

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.