Courtney Janney is the Curator of Large Mammals at the Memphis Zoo, but to the animals at the wildlife park, her role is something more akin to Santa Claus.
Janney is in charge of making sure her wards get physical and mental stimulation every day, provided for by the staff, as much as possible. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, it’s also the driver of creativity. Janney had the clever, caring and downright thrifty idea to jump on Facebook and ask the greater Memphis community to donate used toys as enrichment for the zoo’s primates.
Ask and ye shall receive. When local mom Jennifer Brown came across the listing, she posted a photo of a used play castle. The zookeepers were ecstatic.
“My zookeepers, of course, immediately lost it,” says Janney. “We should give it to the grizzly bears! We should give it to the orangutans! We should give it to the gorillas! This thing is gonna be awesome!”
And indeed it was awesome. Together, Brown and Janney had made “every monkey’s Christmas dream come true.”
“I chuckle,” says Brown, “because I think, that was in my backyard. And now primates are playing on our castle.”
“The community’s response was immediate and generous,” says Janney. “ deserve to have fun, too.”
Animal lovers and other charitable folks can give back to the zoo in a number of different ways. Check out the Memphis Zoo’s donation page for more information on how you, too, can make a monkey (or another favorite animal!) feel like the king or queen of the playground.