The Zoo’s Docent volunteers created a number of special Easter themed treats which will feature in the keeper talks and feeding sessions over the Easter long-weekend. However, today the Sun Bears, Hyenas and Meerkats started the Easter egg hunt early.
Exotic Fauna Keeper, Marty Boland said: “Instead of chocolate the eggs were filled with favourite food items and some even had different scents rubbed on them. Despite the novelty, they were specifically designed as a serious puzzle for our animals, it’s what we call behavioural enrichment.”
Behavioural enrichment is an important part of caring for the animals at Perth Zoo. Zoo Keepers are constantly setting new challenges for the animals. This includes hiding food so the animals have to forage and work for their meals, stimulating their hunting abilities and in turn educating visitors about the extraordinary abilities of animals.
“Curiosity is important for any creature and as part of our enrichment program we’re constantly ensuring every day is different”.
Novel enrichment like the Easter eggs encourages our animals to use different skills and methods to get to their food items and keeps them thinking.
“The Sun Bears, who were both rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, will use their strong claws to rip and tear them open, then use their extraordinary long tongues to investigate what is inside.’
The hyenas which have one of the most powerful jaws in the animal world, able to crunch straight through bones, shouldn’t have any problems cracking into their eggs, whilst the meerkats will probably try and stand on them for sentry duty!’
Many of the enrichment activities the Keepers do for the wildlife at Perth Zoo can be applied to animals at home to keep them happy and healthy whilst owners are at work or enjoying the long weekend. “This could include hiding your dogs’ food to encourage them to sniff it out and keep them busy, or freezing foodstuff in water to keep pets active and hydrated,” said Marty.
Throughout the school holidays visitors are also encouraged to check out the A-maze-ing Autumn wonderland themed maze on the Zoo’s Main Lawn and keep a look out for Alice, the Mad Hatter and the giant Easter Bilby mascot who will be making daily appearances. Perth Zoo is open every day of the year from 9:00am – 5:00pm including Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.