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.

Since 2016, we have a volunteer-based partnership 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, as well as intra and interspecies appropriate social contact.

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

BG the Badger

BG the Badger

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

BG the Honey Badger

BG the Honey Badger

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

Feeder Pumpkin

Feeder Pumpkin

Quality Time

Quality Time

The Spider Monkeys

The Spider Monkeys

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Mokoko the Gorilla

Mokoko the Gorilla

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Spectacled Bear

Spectacled Bear

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Volunteering

Volunteering

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Jess Prinsloo

Jess Prinsloo

Mokoko The Gorilla

Mokoko The Gorilla

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

Annie The Spider Monkey

Annie The Spider Monkey

Spectacled Bears

Spectacled Bears

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Food Toys

Food Toys

Attendant Pfanani

Attendant Pfanani

Windchimes

Windchimes

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Hope

Hope

Feeder Platform

Feeder Platform

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

Condor Tug

Condor Tug

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Browse For The Giraffe

Browse For The Giraffe

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

Condors

Condors

Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

Giraffe Habituation

Giraffe Habituation

Honey Badger

Honey Badger

Feeding Time

Feeding 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

Keeper Minah

Keeper Minah

Honey Badger Feeder

Honey Badger Feeder

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Foraging for Food

Foraging for Food

Movable Feeder Bowls

Movable Feeder Bowls

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Ground Hornbills

Ground Hornbills

Delicious Icey Treat

Delicious Icey Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

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

    BG the Honey Badger using his feeder platform.

  • Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

  • Tactile Enrichment

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

  • BG the Honey Badger

    BG the Honey Badger using his fire hose feeder ball

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Spider Monkeys

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

  • Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

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

  • Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

  • Mokoko the Gorilla

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

  • Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

  • 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

  • Spectacled Bear

  • Macaw's Enjoy Treats

  • Spider Monkey

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

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

    Mokoko the Gorilla investigating his frozen ice lolly.

  • Volunteering

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

  • Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

  • Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

  • Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

  • Jess Prinsloo

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

  • Mokoko The Gorilla

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

  • Tactile Enrichment

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

  • Reneé Venter Trust Training

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

  • 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!

  • Annie The Spider Monkey

    Annie the Spider Monkey investigating her new bucket puzzle feeder.

  • Spectacled Bears

  • Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

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

  • Food Toys

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

  • Attendant Pfanani

    Attendant Pfanani installing enrichment in the King Vulture enclosure.

  • 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.

  • Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

  • Hope

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

  • Feeder Platform

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

  • Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

  • Condor Tug

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

  • Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

  • Browse For The Giraffe

  • Clicker Training

  • Condors

    Tammy Gregor from COAPE SA working with the Andean Condors.

  • Leopard Tortoise

  • 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.

  • Honey Badger

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

  • Feeding Time

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

  • Mokoko the Gorilla

    Mokoko the Gorilla with his red ball.

  • 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.

  • Keeper Minah

    Keeper Minah installing enrichment in the King Vulture enclosure.

  • Honey Badger Feeder

    Fire hose feeder ball for the Honey Badger

  • Hiding Treats In A Tree

  • 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.

  • Movable Feeder Bowls

    Movable feeder bowls for the Cichlids at the zoo.

  • Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

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

  • Ground Hornbills

  • Delicious Icey Treat

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

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

  • 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.

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

FOR ALL OTHER ENQUIRIES:
[email protected]