Thinking Pets - Training Excellence

JHB Zoo Enrichment Programme

Enrichment makes something more meaningful, substantial, or rewarding. It improves something, like quality of life. Enrichment is when something is made more valuable – for animals, it means valuable things such as food, toys and the opportunity to explore their environments. Captive animals – while kept in top physical shape – are often left with quite a lot of free time, since they do not have to search for food. They also spend very little time exploring their environments, because there are very few changes that happen.

We have partnered with the Johannesburg Zoo to develop and implement a comprehensive enrichment program, where the needs of every animal in the zoo are studied and met through an enrichment program designed specifically for that animal. This enrichment program is carefully designed to encourage the animals in the Zoo to engage in very similar activities as their wild counterparts. The process is monitored and adapted so each animal gets the most out of the program.

There are five different categories that we focus on when providing enrichment. These are:

  1. Play enrichment.
  2. Social enrichment.
  3. Cognitive enrichment.
  4. Sensory enrichment.
  5. Food enrichment.

Play enrichment is where we use toys and social contact as a form of enrichment, for example playing tug of war with people, playing musical instruments or playing with bubble machines.

Social enrichment encourages social contact as a form of enrichment. This includes clicker training and tablets to show YouTube videos of other animals.

Cognitive enrichment is when the animals are given puzzles to solve in order to get treats or food. They have to really think about how to solve the problems, and this keeps them busy and stimulated for hours on end.

Sensory enrichment uses sensory exploration as a form of enrichment. Here, we use scratch and sniff scented objects hidden around enclosures for olfactory enrichment; herb gardens/baskets planted in the enclosures for taste enrichment; different textures like hay, cardboard boxes filled with feathers or leaves, straw, pebbles, etc. for tactile enrichment; and wind chimes / music for auditory enrichment.

Food enrichment utilizes the animal’s daily food in such a way that they have to mimic foraging/hunting behaviour seen in the wild. We use pulley systems for the crocodiles to encourage them to hunt, we hide food in hard to reach places to encourage primates to forage, and we provide meals in specially made feeders to encourage natural food acquisition behaviours in all the species.

In addition to these five categories, we also look at changes that can be made to enclosures to make them more stimulating for the animals. These changes include meeting species-specific needs like climbing structures for canopy dwelling monkeys or trees for spectacled bears.

When you’re looking at the animal enclosures and there is a sign that says “Enrichment in Progress” please keep in mind that any unusual objects or items in the enclosure are part of the enrichment program, and not rubbish or junk left un-cleaned. This includes cardboard boxes, hessian bags, excess leaves, hay, straw, tyres, plastic bottles or fire hose cubes, bamboo food dispensers, etc.

You can also visit the JHB Zoo Enrichment Programme page for updates and links to the various species we are working with.

For video clips of the enrichment implemented at Johannesburg Zoo, please visit our YouTube Channel.

Gallery

Foraging for Food

Foraging for Food

Quality Time

Quality Time

Mokoko the Gorilla

Mokoko the Gorilla

Tug of War

Tug of War

Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

Spectacled Bear

Spectacled Bear

BG the Badger

BG the Badger

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Honey Badger Feeder

Honey Badger Feeder

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Movable Feeder Bowls

Movable Feeder Bowls

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Feeder Platform

Feeder Platform

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Annie The Spider Monkey

Annie The Spider Monkey

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Windchimes

Windchimes

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

Volunteering

Volunteering

Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

Food Toys

Food Toys

Spectacled Bears

Spectacled Bears

Condors

Condors

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

Delicious Icey Treat

Delicious Icey Treat

The Spider Monkeys

The Spider Monkeys

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Keeper Minah

Keeper Minah

Mokoko the Gorilla

Mokoko the Gorilla

Browse For The Giraffe

Browse For The Giraffe

Ground Hornbills

Ground Hornbills

Mokoko The Gorilla

Mokoko The Gorilla

Honey Badger

Honey Badger

BG the Honey Badger

BG the Honey Badger

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

Condor Tug

Condor Tug

Attendant Pfanani

Attendant Pfanani

Giraffe Habituation

Giraffe Habituation

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Hope

Hope

Jess Prinsloo

Jess Prinsloo

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

Feeder Pumpkin

Feeder Pumpkin

  • Foraging for Food
  • Quality Time
  • Mokoko the Gorilla
  • Tug of War
  • Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears
  • Spectacled Bear
  • BG the Badger
  • Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe
  • Hiding Treats In A Tree
  • Mokoko With A Puzzle Box
  • Reneé Venter Trust Training
  • Macaw's Enjoy Treats
  • Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat
  • Honey Badger Feeder
  • Ground Hornbil Feeding Box
  • Movable Feeder Bowls
  • Mokoko Enjoying A Treat
  • Feeder Platform
  • Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat
  • Annie The Spider Monkey
  • Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat
  • Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes
  • Windchimes
  • Clicker Training
  • Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor
  • Tactile Enrichment
  • Volunteering
  • Spider Monkey
  • Feeding Time
  • Tactile Enrichment
  • Primate Keeper
  • Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat
  • Food Toys
  • Spectacled Bears
  • Condors
  • Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment
  • Primate Keeper
  • Delicious Icey Treat
  • The Spider Monkeys
  • Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina
  • Keeper Minah
  • Mokoko the Gorilla
  • Browse For The Giraffe
  • Ground Hornbills
  • Mokoko The Gorilla
  • Honey Badger
  • BG the Honey Badger
  • Clicker Training
  • Leopard Tortoise
  • Condor Tug
  • Attendant Pfanani
  • Giraffe Habituation
  • Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor
  • Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises
  • Hope
  • Jess Prinsloo
  • Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys
  • Feeder Pumpkin
  • Foraging for Food

    Johannesburg Zoo staff hide Mokoko’s breakfast in the fire hose feeder, and Mokoko has to search each pocket to find the different rewards.

  • Quality Time

    An important part of the enrichment programme with the Giraffes is to allow them time to adjust to our presence, and to learn to associate the COAPE team with good things.

  • Mokoko the Gorilla

    Playing with a ball forms part of Mokoko’s the Gorilla’s enrichment.

  • Tug of War

    Karin Pienaar from COAPE SA playing tug-of-war with a Condor. This is not just for fun – it actually forms part of their training, as well as being social enrichment.

  • Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

    A grass pad being installed for the Spectacled Bears for tactile enrichment.

  • Spectacled Bear

  • BG the Badger

    BG the Honey Badger using his feeder platform.

  • Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

  • Hiding Treats In A Tree

  • Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

  • Reneé Venter Trust Training

    Reneé Venter offering one of the Giraffe’s browse as part of trust training.

  • Macaw's Enjoy Treats

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

    Mokoko the Gorilla enjoying his frozen vegetable treat on a hot day.

  • Honey Badger Feeder

    Fire hose feeder ball for the Honey Badger

  • Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

  • Movable Feeder Bowls

    Movable feeder bowls for the Cichlids at the zoo.

  • Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

  • Feeder Platform

    Volunteers Kate Slade and Renee Venter putting together a feeder platform for BG the Honey Badger.

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

    Mokoko the Gorilla investigating his frozen ice lolly.

  • Annie The Spider Monkey

    Annie the Spider Monkey investigating her new bucket puzzle feeder.

  • Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

  • Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

  • Windchimes

    A wind chime – as a form of auditory sensory enrichment – being installed by our Team Leaders, Lizelle Britz-Chapman and Jess Prinsloo, and Volunteer Harini Vallabh for Mokoko the Gorilla.

  • Clicker Training

  • Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

    Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor from COAPE SA working with the Giraffes.

  • Tactile Enrichment

    We’ve installed several brushes and scratch patches in the Spectacled bears’ enclosure, and they really enjoy using them!

  • Volunteering

    Matthew David Greenberg volunteered to install a fire hose feeder for Mokoko the gorilla at the Johannesburg Zoo.

  • Spider Monkey

    Training Spider Monkeys to target (touch) our hands forms part of their social enrichment, but also facilitates stress-free medical examinations.

  • Feeding Time

    The feeding toys are used to mimic the King Vultures’ natural scavenging behaviour.

  • Tactile Enrichment

    Tactile enrichment forms an integral part of our enrichment programme with the Spectacled bears.

  • Primate Keeper

    Sharon (a primate Keeper at Joburg Zoo) helped us to install some enrichment in the Spider Monkey enclosure. The Joburg Zoo team are integral to the enrichment programme; a role they fulfil with tremendous enthusiasm!

  • Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

    Mokoko the Gorilla enjoying his frozen vegetable treat on a hot day.

  • Food Toys

    Food toys form part of the food enrichment for the King Vultures and it keeps them busy all day long.

  • Spectacled Bears

  • Condors

    Tammy Gregor from COAPE SA working with the Andean Condors.

  • Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

  • Primate Keeper

    Sharon (a primate Keeper at Joburg Zoo) helped us to install some enrichment in the Spider Monkey enclosure. The Joburg Zoo team are integral to the enrichment programme; a role they fulfil with tremendous enthusiasm!

  • Delicious Icey Treat

  • The Spider Monkeys

    The Spider Monkeys have to feel around inside the bucket puzzle feeder through a tube to find the hidden food.

  • Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

    Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina setting up the ropes for the training session with the Condors.

  • Keeper Minah

    Keeper Minah installing enrichment in the King Vulture enclosure.

  • Mokoko the Gorilla

    Mokoko the Gorilla with his red ball.

  • Browse For The Giraffe

  • Ground Hornbills

  • Mokoko The Gorilla

    Tyre feeders that we use as part of Mokoko the Gorilla’s food enrichment.

  • Honey Badger

    Touch training with a clicker provides BG the honey badger with mental stimulation and facilitates stress-free medical examinations.

  • BG the Honey Badger

    BG the Honey Badger using his fire hose feeder ball

  • Clicker Training

    Katherine Visser, Primate Curator at The Johannesburg Zoo, and Jess Prinsloo from COAPE SA clicker training Spider Monkeys in the new Veterinary Hospital section.

  • Leopard Tortoise

  • Condor Tug

    When the Condors tug, they also open their wings, which we will later put on cue to facilitate stress-free medical examinations.

  • Attendant Pfanani

    Attendant Pfanani installing enrichment in the King Vulture enclosure.

  • Giraffe Habituation

    Here, Tammy is working on habituation with the Giraffes by offering food that the Giraffes can come and take when they feel comfortable enough to approach her.

  • Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

    Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor, two of the Enrichment Programme Team Leaders with some frozen treats for Mokoko the gorilla

  • Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

  • Hope

    Hope, an extremely dedicated animal attendant, helping us to habituate the giraffes to the presence of the COAPE SA team.

  • Jess Prinsloo

    Jess Prinsloo from COAPE SA working on gaining the giraffes’ trust by spending time with them.

  • Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

  • Feeder Pumpkin

    Using hollowed out pumpkins as feeders to hide meat for the Condors and King Vultures serves as food enrichment for these amazing birds.

  • Foraging for Food
  • Quality Time
  • Mokoko the Gorilla
  • Tug of War
  • Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears
  • Spectacled Bear
  • BG the Badger
  • Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe
  • Hiding Treats In A Tree
  • Mokoko With A Puzzle Box
  • Reneé Venter Trust Training
  • Macaw's Enjoy Treats
  • Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat
  • Honey Badger Feeder
  • Ground Hornbil Feeding Box
  • Movable Feeder Bowls
  • Mokoko Enjoying A Treat
  • Feeder Platform
  • Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat
  • Annie The Spider Monkey
  • Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat
  • Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes
  • Windchimes
  • Clicker Training
  • Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor
  • Tactile Enrichment
  • Volunteering
  • Spider Monkey
  • Feeding Time
  • Tactile Enrichment
  • Primate Keeper
  • Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat
  • Food Toys
  • Spectacled Bears
  • Condors
  • Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment
  • Primate Keeper
  • Delicious Icey Treat
  • The Spider Monkeys
  • Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina
  • Keeper Minah
  • Mokoko the Gorilla
  • Browse For The Giraffe
  • Ground Hornbills
  • Mokoko The Gorilla
  • Honey Badger
  • BG the Honey Badger
  • Clicker Training
  • Leopard Tortoise
  • Condor Tug
  • Attendant Pfanani
  • Giraffe Habituation
  • Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor
  • Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises
  • Hope
  • Jess Prinsloo
  • Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys
  • Feeder Pumpkin
FOR COAPE COURSES:
Wendy Wilson
[email protected]

FOR ALL OTHER ENQUIRIES:
[email protected]