West Midland Safari Park is currently hosting its annual Santa Safari event and keepers have been busy thinking of inventive ways to get the animals involved in the Christmas spirit too.
Creating enrichment is an important part of a keeper’s job, as it promotes natural behaviours that animals exhibit in the wild.
As part of their enrichment, a large, shiny gold bauble has been keeping the ‘waddle’ of 19 Humboldt penguins amused. Keepers have been using the bauble as a reward target, offering a fishy treat every time every time the penguins tap it with their beak. Other penguins seem to enjoy just chasing the rays of light that reflect off the shiny surface, whilst others simply like musing at their distorted reflections!
Meanwhile, the rainbow lorikeets, have been treated to a Christmas tree made by their keeper, Laura Hodgkins. “During the weeks before Santa Safari, we’re closed to the public, which is the perfect time for us to come up with enrichment ideas. Usually the guests can feed our lorikeets with a pot of nectar, but with the absence of this, the birds have a lot of time to do their own thing. Most of this involves preparing for the arrival of babies; from building their nests, to the act of mating and then incubating their eggs.
“It can be a very busy time of year for the birds, however they all seem to find the time to enjoy a bit of themed enrichment, especially the youngsters, who don’t yet have to worry about pressures of courtship and breeding.”
She continued, “One of the birds’ favourite things (excluding food) is bamboo; they take pride in destroying it as much as they can, so what better way to get them into the festive spirit than a Christmas tree made entirely of bamboo. With the addition of their favourite toys, festive cardboard decorations and fruity baubles, finally topped off with a star made from lorikeet feathers – it’s a Christmas tree perfectly suited to a lorikeet. Unlike the average Christmas tree this one will only last a week or two, so I’ll soon be making another one to see them through to the New Year!”
For more information on visiting the Santa Safari at West Midland Safari Park go to www.santasafari.co.uk