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Zoo lions sink their teeth into excitement

10 February 2004

Zoo lions sink their teeth into excitement

Wellington Zoo’s pride of four adult lions will be in for a new experience this Sunday when they sink their teeth into two papier mache piñata zebras.

Made by the Zoo volunteer enrichment team, the zebras took about 6-8 weeks to make and will be used to stimulate the lions’ olfactory senses. Meat will be put into the ‘stomachs’ of the zebras for the lions to extract, simulating a kill in the wild.

Zoo Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rebekah Turner says “most of the enrichment team are adult volunteers who come into the Zoo every Sunday to create stimulating activities for the animals like piñatas, mousicles - dead mice frozen into an ice block – and scent sprays such as curry paste and Chanel #5.”

“The team had researched the idea of putting meat inside animal-shaped piñatas and decided it would be both fun and stimulating for our animals.

“Enrichment activities are an important part of the lives of all animals at the Zoo and we aim to develop a regular and varied range of activities.”

Prior to Christmas, the Zoo’s Sumatran Tiger, Cantik, also enjoyed a purpose-built piñata shaped as a gazelle.

“We filled the piñata stomach with beef and rubbed zebra poo on the legs because carnivores are stimulated by the smell,” says enrichment volunteer Fiona Wright.

After stalking the piñata, Cantik rubbed herself on her toy before battering it and taking a leg away to chew on.

“Visitors watching her experienced a full 35 minutes of predator-like behaviour,” Rebekah describes.

Visitors to the Zoo can expect to see the adult lions stalking their piñata prey this Sunday 13th February at 10:00am.


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