Enriching Scotland's Indoor Rainforest!

Posted: 3rd August, 2017

Since August 2016, keepers at Amazonia have been working on a new programme to design and create new enrichment ideas to provide more stimulation and improve the feeding routine for a range of different species of primate and kinkajou. The set-up before creating these designs was all natural sights, sounds and smells. We often fed the animals by doing scatter feeds and placing food in baskets around the enclosures. Keepers began with making enrichment feeders to give the animals something new to investigate and play with during various feeds throughout the day. The aim was to create objects that could easily be placed and hung inside the enclosures that would encourage their natural feeding and foraging behaviour out of materials including bamboo, wood and rope.

Six different designs were made, all taking into consideration the specific needs of the animal. The idea was to design enrichment for marmoset gum, honey water or nectar to be dripped inside. The marmosets would then use their teeth and claws to get the gum out from inside the feeder instead of simply licking it off the branches like they had previously done. The designs for the kinkajou were similar; longer holes were drilled into the wood at an angle so they would use their elongated tongue to get to the honey water or nectar inside. By hanging the feeder on branches inside the enclosures the enrichment was also benefiting the animals physically as they had to climb and grip onto the feeder to get to the food supply inside.

The first design had a positive reaction from our black tailed marmosets, which were eager to get the gum. The holes were drilled into the side of the wood which caused the gum to leak out when it was positioned inside the enclosure. When creating the next enrichment idea this was a problem we reflected upon and rectified for future designs. More features were added to the enrichment feeders such as areas where fruit could be pierced on to it and areas where food could be hidden to increase foraging behaviour.

In November 2016, Amazonia teamed up with Calderglen Country Park for staff to discuss enrichment ideas and designs. They were able to exchange ideas on enrichment and see how each zoo provides enrichment for the different species they house. As part of this meeting, new enrichment was designed and made for Calderglen’s animals and Amazonia were able to take ideas and information from this to improve and develop current enrichment projects. Hopefully these enrichment meetings will become a regular event.

In 2017, the staff at Amazonia began making new enrichment for the kinkajous. These are features that are to be placed inside their newly refurbished enclosure. The enrichment can easily be removed and replaced to keep them interested and stimulated. Amazonia staff are creating more enrichment feeders with different uses such as sensory enrichment and also physical enrichment, including log tightropes for them to climb and swing on.

Amazonia are currently producing an enrichment timetable for the kinkajous and primates. The timetable will be on a two week cycle where every day for two weeks they always have something different during their feeds. Eventually this will also include the parrots and bats. Amazonia hopes to continue working with Calderglen and other collections to constantly improve all aspects of the animals’ enrichment - Lorna Mitchell, Zoo Keeper, Amazonia.


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