The chimpanzee troop at Taronga Zoo has been enjoying their Easter treats a little early. They were given 30 paper mâché eggs to crack open so they could enjoy the treats inside. Instead of chocolate they found much healthier treats such as popcorn, sultanas and pellets.
Keepers put lots of work into designing the eggs so they would be a serious psychological puzzle for the chimps. These were then positioned in places where the chimps would need to work to find them. Puzzles which make the animals think are known as ‘enrichment.’
Suzi Leon, primate keeper at Taronga explained this process, “We call this type of enrichment ‘novel enrichment’ as it’s an item these animals have never seen before so it’s completely new and exciting.”
“Novel enrichments like these eggs are new and challenging ways to present food to these animals, it keeps them thinking.”
“The chimps had to manipulate and break the eggs to get the food. They were completely sealed so they had to rattle them around a little bit to figure out what was inside. Then they ripped the eggs apart. It’s very different for them and engages them throughout the day,” she added.
The chimps had plenty to go around as they had 30 eggs between 19 chimps. A lower ranking female known as Lani was able to secure four of the eggs which is rare for lower ranked chips.
Lemon said,”Sudi, one of our youngest chimps at nine months old, started playing with the wrapping of one of the eggs. It’s great to see infants enjoying the enrichment as well.”
Photo Credit: Paul Fahy/ Taronga Zoo