Saturday, 19 September 2009

Stripe and Blotch enjoy the simple things in life

Well, it's taken so long to get videos onto the blog and now in one afternoon three have been accepted! The clips below show Stripe, one of our 8 year old Amur tigers, playing with a large cardboard tube covered in strong smelling spices. Stripe, her twin sister Blotch, and their younger brother Vladimir love anything they can rip up and destroy! For this reason we have to carefully consider enrichment we give them so they do not come to any harm.

We frequently use olfactory enrichment with the cats (enrichment which stimulates the sense of smell) because this sense is really important to them. In the wild, tigers would spend a lot of their time patrolling their territory and scent marking. In order to encourage this natural behaviour we put various scents in the enclosures and on enrichment items. Some of their favourites are catnip, curry powder, mixed spice and cumin. We also use herbs and perfumes. These give the animals something different to analyse and they then cover up the foreign smell with their own odour, either by rubbing themselves all over it or, of course, by spraying!

The videos were taken a few weeks ago, but these photos of Blotch and the new hanging boomer ball were taken on Thursday. This time four straps of fire hose were used as a sling and it was hung from a tree by a long chain. When the lions had it recently, it only had two straps and Solomon managed to pop the ball out and it rolled down the hill! Hopefully this won’t happen with the tigers because it will end up in the moat if it does, and the keepers do not enjoy trying to retrieve it from there!

Thursday was a feed day so we put the ball up while the tigers were in their houses. Vlad came out and got his food, sat down and ate it. Stripe came out and got her food, sat down and ate it. Blotch however, came out and played with the Boomer ball! We had to call her away to make sure she got her food and one of the others didn’t eat it.

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