Animal urine has a number of uses around the world. But here at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, we use it as part of our olfactory enrichment activities – an excitement of the senses for our animals!
The Zoo is home to hundreds of animals, large and small, and part of our mantra of care for them is to make sure their quality of life is the best that it can be. Olfactory enrichment is just one of the many ways that we can do this.
For Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s three Sumatran Tigers, Satu, Sakti and Indah, it can be as simple as spreading urine from other animals, like Rhinos and camels, in the Tiger exhibit. Cooking spices also enrich their sense of smell and diversify their space. This replicates their experience in the wild, where they would regularly come across scents from other species including animals and plants.
Satu, one of the male Sumatran Tigers, has a special love for nutmeg, so our Keepers often sprinkle the spice in the Tiger exhibit. It’s not uncommon to see him licking and rolling in the spice, and really enjoying the new addition to his exhibit. In Summer, the Tigers enjoy ‘Bloodsicles’, or popsicles made from leftover juices of blood, and frozen dry cat biscuits!
By adding different new experiences for the animals here at the Zoo, we can change the dynamics of their exhibit and give them a more enriched life – even if it does seem a wee bit strange!