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in Nuremburg

Occupying the Animals

Keeping the Animals Going

Why are there swings, ropes and rope ladders in the gibbons' enclosure? For brachiating and exercising, of course, to allow the sportive animals to live out their natural need for moving about.

 Who has not yet been in a similar situation at some stage: With body and soul idling for too long, we get bored and unhappy! Zoo animals are not that different. They do not have to fear predators in their zoo enclosures. Whenever they hurt themselves, the vet will come to help them. They do not have to suffer hunger or thirst either, nor do they have to hunt for food. A dream life? Not at all! Even the laziest bear won't last just eating and sleeping! 

These days, dedicated zoo keepers therefore care more for the physical well-being of the animals than in the past and have thought of sensible possibilities to keep the animals occupied.

As an example, they have built an extended outdoor enclosure with lawn and trees for the swift squirrel monkeys. The little monkeys love to chase each other across the branches of the trees. With their strong beaks the keas enjoy picking to pieces everything that was not nailed down. The birds are always happy about new toys. Curiously they tear open cardboard boxes filled with floundering flour worms. And don't be scared if you find gallows standing in the cape buffalo's enclosure! No one is going to be hanged there. The animals simply bump their mighty forehead with full force against the large pieces of wood attached to the gallows by a rope. This is how the giants let off some steam.

With their claws, brown bears love to fish for apples that "accidentally" (?) escape the keeper's grip and roll into the pond. However, the little gourmets do not have to mug bees' hives at the zoo in order to reach their beloved honey. They can simply find it on their trees or in crevices, where they contently lick off their treat. Every now and again they will also find carrots or small fish in these hiding places. Feeding the animals by this means, however, cannot be an everyday procedure. The bear would know all the hiding places by heart very soon.

Those ways of occupying the animals are a welcome distraction for them and an awful lot of fun. They help when the animals are bored or show signs of abnormal behaviour and even get them out of the way completely.