Last month, Belfast Zoo made a request for the public to donate natural Christmas trees to be used for animal enrichment. They were overwhelmed with the response when several hundred trees arrived at their gates.
The festive trees were immediately put to good use as enrichment, which is used to encourage natural behaviours and to provide stimulation within the animal’s environment. Keepers at the zoo work hard on producing innovative enrichment techniques for all of the species they care for.
Zoo curator, Raymond Robinson, said “The Christmas trees are a great form of enrichment for many of the animals. They are extremely tactile, have a strong scent, can be used for the animals to sleep and shelter under and are also a good snack for some of the larger animals! The festive firs have already started to be used around the Cave Hill site and will be given to a variety of animals including the big cats, elephants, apes, primates and birds. When the animals have finished with the trees, they will be chipped down into bark to ‘spruce’ up the animal enclosures. It’s been great to see the public get behind the project and it’s fantastic that our visitors are able to say that their tree went straight from their living room to the elephant enclosure!”
Enrichment is a key part of providing the best care possible for the animals at the zoo, whose dedicated team of passionate zoo staff help develop new ideas and re-purpose items for animal enrichment.
Belfast Zoo is able to use a range of items to create enrichment, which the public can donate, including:
o bed sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases
o cardboard / clear plastic tubes
o unused pet toys
o fire hose
o hanging baskets
o unbreakable mirrors
o pine cones
o bungee cord
o brush or mop heads (natural materials only)