Saturday, 22 August 2009

Coati enclosure gets a makeover

After completing the refurbishment of the vervet monkey enclosure recently, we set our sights on the coati pen. Our six ring-tailed, or brown-nosed, coati moved into their current enclosure back in January. Basil, a nine year old male, and Junior, a three year old female, produced four healthy babies in May last year. As a result they outgrew their previous home beside the monkeys. Their new enclosure used to house the serval cats, and is much higher and longer. When the youngsters were eight months old we decided it was time to move the family. This now included an additional male, Diego, and three more females, Fonzo, Julio and Zorro.

Coati are members of the raccoon family, unlike all other members of this family they are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. They live in forests across large areas of South America. Coati are omnivores, eating a wide variety of plant and animal matter, and they use their highly sensitive nose and excellent sense of smell to locate their food. They forage both on the ground and in the trees.

The species is well known for digging and shredding so we had to remember this when revamping their enclosure, hopefully then they wouldn't destroy everything we put in! First of all we took down the old ropes. Except for the fire hose hammock, the items now hanging from the roof are all new. These include new ropes and fire hoses to climb, a hanging tube, fire hose swing and a rope ladder. One of our keepers, Ben, designed a new enrichment object which we are all calling the hot air balloon for that is what it resembles! It is a hanging horizontal life buoy, covered in rope, from which hangs a small wooden box where we can place some of their food. The coati are often seen sitting in this, despite its unusual appearance it is a definite success with them!

As we worked our way down to the ground, dead plants and old logs were removed. Most of the larger climbing structures were left this time. We have spent time planting about a dozen or so new bushes and shrubs and have surrounded these with rocks in the hope it will increase their lifespan! We also tried to use plants that were less appealing to the coati, we used some grasses and ferns, but soon discovered these were irresistible to them! They have been replaced with hardier species.

The main enclosure refurbishment is now complete for the coati, but like all of the animals at the zoo they are given enrichment on a regular basis. Items such as puzzle feeders, fruitbergs, and feeder balls are popular. A fresh layer of bark chip is also added whenever we get a delivery; they forage through this and pick out all of the invertebrates.

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