Today is set to be a scorcher so Taronga’s primate keepers have prepared special icy treats for the chimps to enjoy throughout the day.
Keepers are leaving ice blocks of frozen herbal tea filled with treats of sultanas, peanuts and vegetables for the chimps to discover when they come out for breakfast. Taronga is home to 19 chimps, including three young infants, so keepers are expecting lots of excitement and activity when the chimps come out and see the frozen surprises.
Senior Primate Keeper, Katie Hooker, said: “The frozen treats help to cool them down, which is nice on a hot day. But they’re also a great form of enrichment to make the chimps work for their food. They have to either wait until the ice melts, or lick the ice until they can get to their food.”
“They normally get pretty excited when they see enrichment like this. The chimps will usually run out and try and grab as many as they can for themselves. The ice blocks are very cold so they have a hard time holding on to them so it helps challenge them,” said Katie.
“We have three young chimps at the moment, Fumo, Sudi and Liwali so we’re expecting them to get involved. Normally the mothers try and get the ice blocks for themselves, and then their infants try and steal what they can. Our oldest infant Fumo has learnt that he can fit into one of the logs, so we like to put special food items in there so he can hide and eat his special treats.”
“Enrichment is really important for our chimpanzees. They are incredibly intelligent animals so we help keep them mentally and physically stimulated throughout the day. In the wild they spend about 80% of their time foraging for food so we try to replicate that as much as possible. One way of doing that is through enrichment like this.”
Our chimps are well adapted to high temperatures, so to help beat the heat chimps will spend most of the day sitting in the many shaded areas of the exhibit under sprinklers or have the choice to stay in their air-conditioned night dens.
Taronga’s chimp group is internationally recognised as one of the most significant in human care in the world. We are part of a global effort by zoos to maintain a genetically healthy population as an insurance against extinction in the wild.