Archive for Enrichment

Look at these Animal Masterpieces

animal painting zoo attraction

Picasso said “Every child is an artist.”  At the zoo, we think “Every animal is an artist!”  Last week, four zoo animals painted “masterpieces” that will be auctioned at future zoo fundraising events.  The artists were Hugh the penguin, Mawson the dingo, and Tengku and Tara the Sumatran orangutans.  

Fundraising is not the only reason the zoo’s animals paint.  The activity provides physical and mental challenges that elicit natural behaviors.  This type of stimulation is also known as “animal enrichment.”

The following media gallery showcases each of the zoo’s artists at work:

 

 

 

The photos below illustrate “before and after” shots of the creative process.  Click on any of the thumbnails to enlarge:

 

 

The following videos show Sumatran orangutans Tara and Tengku working with paintbrushes:

 

 

Posted in: Enrichment, Zoo News

Happy Birthday to our Two-Year Olds!

dingo zoo attraction

The zoo’s dingo puppies celebrate their second birthday on Thursday, January 30.  Zoo keepers hosted an early birthday party complete with enrichment-based gifts.  The gifts, which were made by zoo volunteers, included cardboard “animals” and paper mache balls.  (For more on animal enrichment, visit our website.)

Their litter includes seven pups, five of which still reside here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.  (Male dingo Brumby and female dingo Elzey now live at the Cleveland Zoo.)

The dingoes that celebrated here in Fort Wayne included:

  • Mawson (male)
  • Tingoora (female)
  • Bunyip (male)
  • Airlie (female)
  • Yengo (male)

 

 Bunyip, Mawson, and Tingoora became especially engaged with their cardboard surprises.  Click on the video to watch their reaction!

 

 

 Click on the images below to enlarge:

Posted in: Enrichment, Zoo News

Picky Eaters? We’ve Got Them, Too!

Bill 100X100

Bill the lion may have a big appetite, but that doesn’t mean he’ll eat anything!  According to African Journey Area Director Amber Eagleson,  Bill’s reluctance to accept dietary change lead to his reputation as a “picky eater”.  

“All our big cats eat a commercial ground-meat diet we purchase by the ton.  Whenever we switch meat companies, Bill is always the last to comply.  We find it ironic since he eats the largest amount of meat in the entire zoo!” states Eagleson.  

Fortunately for Bill, who consumes approximately eight pounds of meat each day, the zoo changes animal diets only a supplier cannot meet the necessary nutritional requirements.  To ease the transition to a new diet, Eagleson explains that “For most carnivores, we will mix 75% of the meat they are accustomed to with 25% of the new meat for a week and then go to 50:50 and then 25:75.  Almost always, it is no big deal for the animal.  However, Bill has given us problems almost every time.”  

What’s a zoo keeper to do?  In the case of Bill “The Picky Eater” Lion, the transition starts at 95% new to 5% old and proceeds gradually from there.

In the Indonesian Rain Forest, the term “picky eating” takes on a different definition.  Melati, Tengku, and Tara, the zoo’s Sumatran orangutans, approach their lunch very carefully.   They reach inside of pumpkins and carefully pluck out seeds one at a time.   The orangutans then shell and eat each pumpkin seed until the last one is gone.  According to Tanisha Dunbar, Area Director for the Indonesian Rainforest, Melati approaches the task so precisely that she finishes every last seed “without breaking a single one.”  

Dunbar also points out that, “Melati can peel grapes without breaking them.”  How’s that for “picky eating”?

Posted in: African Animals, Enrichment, Indonesian Rain Forest, Zoo News