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African Wild Dog Enrichment

Friday, August 20, 2010 4:40pm
dog enrichment 01.JPG dog enrichment 02.JPG dog enrichment 03.JPG dog enrichment 04.JPG

You can probably tell from my other blogs that I love enrichment, however I am finding that what I think the animals will love is not always the case!

Recently I saw Gary, one of our great BEEZA (Behavioural and Environmental Enrichment for Zoo Animals) volunteers, with a shopping trolley full of paper mache balls for the Tasmanian Devils at Monarto Zoo. I took one look at them and thought they would be the perfect size for our African Wild Dogs. Gary happily agreed to make six and also put some dry kibble and dried liver treats inside, not only making the ball rattle but a nice surprise inside for the dogs.

Two weeks later Gary showed up with 6 bright blue paper mache balls. I put them in the African Wild Dog exhibit, with the girls watching me with anticipation. I let the dogs out and we watched, thinking there would be a flurry of excitement and paper shredding...but that’s not what happened at all.There was sniffing and cautious inspection but after five minutes they seemed to have completely forgotten about them and went and snoozed in the morning sun.

Half way through the day we did come back to see one ball demolished. The other 5 that were still intact were given to the Lions and Tigers, all of which had a blast with them.

As for the dogs I must say I was surprised to get such little reaction but I am not giving up on the paper mache, I have asked Gary to make one very large ball, this time in pink (being that they are girls). These guys are pack hunters so hopefully they will work together to rip apart the next ball!

Carnivore Keeper, Adelaide Zoo




Hi Arliah,

I'm wondering if you've ever done any sort of enrichment with the wild dogs using a kind of track which moves fastly round an enclosure allowing the wild dogs to chase down the prey which is connected? OR if you've heard or seen anything done like this...

I'm interested as our senior Zoo club here at Belfast Zoo are thinking of doing something like this.
Posted By: Mark Adamson on Monday, August 23, 2010 5:47pm
Hi Mark,

Yes we have used a similar device. It was aerial and allowed the dogs to chase an item, food or otherwise, around the exhibit. However we have ceased using it because it seemed to cause aggression because there was only one track and therefore only one item to chase. Any enrichment we give is always in multiples of the number of animals. We also found using this track in summer (Adelaide has very hot summers) was not beneficial to the dogs. Hope this helps, let me know of any other questions. Arliah
Posted By: Arliah on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 9:15am
hello,it must be chalenging to come up with new inventive ways to keep the aleart hunting mind of any carivore aleart and entertained,do you find the wild dogs become acustom to new things too quickly? i am sure you have used a million enrichment plans but for the wild dogs i was thinking can you posibly use a tasty smell or lure of some kind in some type of sack that you could put in a tree and tie off so the dogs really have to use their heads and work together to get to the "prey".sure you have tryed simillar just curious.
Posted By: jameylee scholz on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 4:25pm
Hi Jameylee,

Thanks for your post. I am actually finding the dogs are a bit timid with new things and I need to try them several times till they interact with them as intended. They do love scent based enrichment, such as herbs. One of the new items I have yet to use is hanging paper mache balls, which I would drip horse blood on. Hanging hessian sack, filled with herbs, may also be a good one. So far meat scatters and mince smears work the best for the longest, making them use that great sense of smell.
Posted By: Arliah on Wednesday, September 08, 2010 6:06pm

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