TRICKY TREATS FOR SAFARI PARK ANIMALS…
To celebrate the spookiest of seasons, West Midland Safari Park has been treating its furry, feathered and slippery residents with some peculiar pumpkin enrichment.
As part of the Park’s month-long Spooky Spectacular festival which started on 1 October, over 1,700 pumpkins were ordered to help theme the Park’s Discovery Trail, African Village and Adventure Theme Park. Any surplus pumpkins are donated to the Wildlife team, who use them as part of the animals’ important enrichment programme — and prove to be very popular indeed.
Once a pumpkin has been hollowed out, it can be filled with an animal’s favourite food, whether it be fish for the penguins, insects for the meerkats, or meat for the lions.
Some of the animals were more keen about their new play things than others. Amber, the Park’s youngest lioness, snatched the pumpkin up straight away and fiercely guarded it, snarling at anything that dared to come too close!
The penguins however, seemed to be very cautious of their new, bright orange visitor and only one or two brave individuals managed to pluck up the courage to waddle warily over and grab a sprat, before turning swiftly on their feet and dashing into the safety of the penguin pool.
One group of animals that couldn’t wait to get their claws stuck into their new toys were the mischievous meerkats. Keeper, Michelle Howes, said, “We regularly provide the animals with environmental enrichment and the meerkats really loved the pumpkins. Being naturally inquisitive little creatures, the pumpkins went down a treat, allowing them to exhibit natural behaviours of foraging, playing and burrowing. As pumpkins are a seasonal treat, they offered lots of new tastes and smells.”
She continued, “We really enjoyed watching the meerkats explore their pumpkin tower, searching for the mealworms we had filled each pumpkin with. When they had finally found every last mealworm, we did not let the pumpkins go to waste — we recycled the left overs by giving them to the hippos later in the day.”
For some animals, the bright orange spheres didn’t need to be filled with tasty treats to make them interesting. Six month old white rhino Ekozu, seemed to take offence to the strange object that appeared in his path and flicked it over with his tiny horn, completing the sequence with a victory dance!
Meanwhile in the reptile house, some of the snakes were trying out some of the Halloween decorations as a substitute for a hide. Maybe not a permanent enclosure fixture, but perfect for the spooky season, creating the stuff of nightmares for anyone afraid of the slithering serpents!
Spooky Spectacular runs until 31 October with opening hours extended until 9:00pm on weekends, October half-term and Halloween.
Spooky Spectacular is included in the standard admission charge of £22.00 for adults, £17.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £20.00 for concessions. Children under the age of 3 years are admitted free of charge. Paid admission includes a free-return ticket. Admission prices reduce for arrival after 3pm during half-term. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Further information and tickets are available from the Park’s official website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. You can find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: http://www.wmsp.co.uk/facebook