Trash turned treasure for Zoo Knoxville animals

Chris Milano # State

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) ---- There are 800 animals at zoo knoxville, and every one of them has a personality.

"They greet you when you walk in for the day, they say good night to you."
says Jamie Dowling, Great Ape Keeper at the zoo.

It doesn't matter if they're an adult or child, they need to be entertained.

"Just so these guys have to move around more and give them more options to sit, and they can climb around if they want to."

Which is exactly why Zoo Knoxville takes their animal enrichment program so seriously.

So just keeping them mentally engaged in their environment is really important, we want to be able to give them options Jamie says.

But it's not always the same. The keepers move around the items, making the animals feel more nautral in their environment.

Jacob Norris is the man with the responsible for building those items, something he does so well--his service is always in demand.

"I've made some bunk beds for our racoons, I've made like a triple decker bed for our gorillas. I've also made a bed for our bears."
says Norris.

The items come from a number of different places. Whether it's bags, cereal boxes or even donated fire hoses donated from local fire departments.

"Other materials are maybe trash to other people but we can recycle it and use it.

Truly proving that one man's trash, is another man's treasure. No matter what they're made of--the zoo's mission is clear.

"It's all about the animals, it's purely about them it's their safety their overall health and mental health as well."
says Jacob.