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Animal Crackers

Zoo's furry residents clown around for turkey dinners.

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A toilet-paper tube full of mushy stuffing awaits a famished 500-pound gorilla for today's Thanksgiving at the Zoo. The result isn't pretty, but the hairy beast doesn't mind the mouthwatering mess. "Stuffing treats into tubes imitates the whole turkey-dinner experience," says Sue Allen, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. "It allows the animals to forage and pick at them, like how they would act in the wild."While elephants, grizzly bears, and sea lions chow down on turkey, corn, and cranberry sauce, spectators can walk off their dinners by checking out kid-friendly enrichment booths of animal trivia. They can also flag down zookeepers for one-on-one "critter chats" and watch more wildlife forage for grub. "We'll have swamp monkeys bobbing for food," says Allen. "They're not afraid of water, so this should be fun for them as well as for the parents and kids watching the action." Lots of them: At least 10,000 people will schmooze with the critters, since the zoo is waiving its admission fee today. "Over the years, it's become very popular," Allen says. "It's evolved into a cherished family tradition, and definitely a great way to work off a big meal." Thanksgiving at the Zoo is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, 3900 Wildlife Way. Admission is free. Call 216-661-6500 or visit www.clemetzoo.com.
Thu., Nov. 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 2007

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