Animal Diaries Archive
Life's not boring for our big cats!
26 August 2005Here at the zoo we believe strongly in enriching our animals as much as possible. Enrichment in the big cat section is more readily available, due to our team being able to go in with our cats all day.
Enrichment is something that triggers a different response in an animal and gets their brain stimulated. This can be anything from introducing a new scent, to making a new structure in their enclosure. We enrich our animals each day with a variety of activities.
We train our cheetahs and tigers to engage in different behaviours that mimic what they would do in the wild. They are rewarded with milk, meat or verbal praise. These behaviours are things such as sit-ups, which is what tigers especially do in the wild to smell low-hanging branches for any nearby animal scents. We also train them to do rises. This is where any big cat will stretch out tall and scratch on trees. This cleans the sheaths on their claws and leaves a scent on the tree. Each cat has scent glands in between their toes.
We also take all our big cats for a walk each day into a different area of the zoo. Sometimes we take them out in the public area of the Zoo, which is generally very stimulating as they watch all the different people come and go. We also take them out the back of the zoo for walks. This is very relaxing and allows them to have some time away from the public.
Another enrichment activity that we use is our toy sessions. Our tigers go to the Crocoseum to do their TigersLIVE show each day. This usually includes playing in the water with toys with their keepers. A lot of running around and excitement comes about from toy sessions. With our cheetahs we do not do a show like the tigers, but at random times throughout the day we run around with toys. With cheetahs, as soon as something moves fast their natural instincts kick in and they have to chase it. This makes our toy sessions with the cheetahs very fun.
We also add new hanging toys, branches and scents to their enclosure each day. This triggers different responses from each cat. Some cats can get very excited on different smells and run around goofy, whereas other smells can be very relaxing and soothing. Generally when the cats find a new smell, they need to immerse their entire body in it by rolling and rubbing all over it.
The enrichment that we provide to our cats every day is spending time hanging out with them. We have a number of staff and each of us provides something different to the cats. Enrichment is extremely important and keeps animals happy and stimulated.
And we usually enjoy it as much as they do.
Our Amazing Cheetahs
The cheetah has a slender, elongated body supported on tall, thin legs with blunt semi-retractable claws and a flattened rudder-like tail that measures half ...more
On display in Africa