Taronga’s keepers, nutritionists and animal behaviourists surprised many of the Zoo animals this morning with Christmas-themed treats and enrichment.
The Giraffes enjoyed Christmas wreaths decorated with apples and foliage using their 40cm long tongues to retrieve the food and show off the natural skills and behaviours they would in the wild.
Elephant Calf Jai Dee will experience his first Christmas this year and appeared to enjoy playing with a decorated Christmas tree for the very first time. Surrounded by presents of rock melon, carrot and bamboo, Taronga’s Elephants did not let their new Christmas tree stand for very long, knocking it straight to the ground with their trunks.
The Squirrel Monkeys revelled in exploring two Christmas trees decorated in capsicum stars and hibiscus flowers, jumping in between the trees.
The activities were developed and refined by the keepers and the Zoos’ Behavioural Studies Unit. Keepers often provide enrichment items to the animals at the Zoo, this may include hiding food around the exhibits, changing feed times, providing toys or new ‘furniture’ for climbing and playing on as well as placing food inside objects that challenge the animal’s mentally and physically. This is all designed to keep the Zoo’s animals’ active and healthy as well as keep their minds sharp.
Encouraging these skills is part of maintaining the animals’ wildness under the Zoos’ commitment maintaining 90% of its wildlife’s genetic and behavioural diversity over 100 years.
“We regularly provide enrichment items to our animals, as it encourages natural behaviours such as foraging or problem solving. It is only fitting that at this time of year the enrichment have a Christmas theme,” said Zoo Keeper, Johnny Wade.
Taronga Zoo is open every day of the Summer School Holidays, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day.