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

The Spider Monkeys

The Spider Monkeys

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

Leopard Tortoise

Leopard Tortoise

Spider Monkey

Spider Monkey

Mokoko the Gorilla

Mokoko the Gorilla

Volunteering

Volunteering

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

Feeder Pumpkin

Feeder Pumpkin

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

Spectacled Bears

Spectacled Bears

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Keeper Pleasure and Attendant Sophina

Keeper Minah

Keeper Minah

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

Tug of War

Tug of War

Spectacled Bear

Spectacled Bear

Condor Tug

Condor Tug

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

BG the Badger

BG the Badger

Hope

Hope

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

Mokoko the Gorilla

Mokoko the Gorilla

Condors

Condors

Foraging for Food

Foraging for Food

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Macaw's Enjoy Treats

Browse For The Giraffe

Browse For The Giraffe

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

Clicker Training

Clicker Training

Honey Badger Feeder

Honey Badger Feeder

Attendant Pfanani

Attendant Pfanani

Movable Feeder Bowls

Movable Feeder Bowls

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

BG the Honey Badger

BG the Honey Badger

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

Jess Prinsloo

Jess Prinsloo

Annie The Spider Monkey

Annie The Spider Monkey

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

Delicious Icey Treat

Delicious Icey Treat

Ground Hornbills

Ground Hornbills

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Reneé Venter Trust Training

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Jess Prinsloo and Tammy Gregor

Mokoko The Gorilla

Mokoko The Gorilla

Primate Keeper

Primate Keeper

Food Toys

Food Toys

Honey Badger

Honey Badger

Tactile Enrichment

Tactile Enrichment

Giraffe Habituation

Giraffe Habituation

Feeder Platform

Feeder Platform

Windchimes

Windchimes

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Hiding Treats In A Tree

Quality Time

Quality Time

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

Mokoko The Gorilla's Frozen Treat

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

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

  • Leopard Tortoise Food Enrichment

  • Leopard Tortoise

  • 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

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

  • Volunteering

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

  • Creating Food Enrichment For The Tortoises

  • 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.

  • Ground Hornbil Feeding Box

  • Spectacled Bears

  • 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.

  • Clicker Training

  • 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.

  • Spectacled Bear

  • Condor Tug

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

  • 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!

  • BG the Badger

    BG the Honey Badger using his feeder platform.

  • Hope

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

  • Mokoko Enjoying A Treat

  • Mokoko the Gorilla

    Mokoko the Gorilla with his red ball.

  • Condors

    Tammy Gregor from COAPE SA working with the Andean Condors.

  • 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.

  • Macaw's Enjoy Treats

  • Browse For The Giraffe

  • Tactile Enrichment

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

  • Feeding Time

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

  • Mokoko Inspecting The Windchimes

  • Mokoko With A Puzzle Box

  • 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.

  • Honey Badger Feeder

    Fire hose feeder ball for the Honey Badger

  • Attendant Pfanani

    Attendant Pfanani installing enrichment in the King Vulture enclosure.

  • Movable Feeder Bowls

    Movable feeder bowls for the Cichlids at the zoo.

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Investigating His Treat

    Mokoko the Gorilla investigating his frozen ice lolly.

  • Grass Pad For The Spectacled Bears

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

  • Icey Treat For The Spider Monkeys

  • BG the Honey Badger

    BG the Honey Badger using his fire hose feeder ball

  • Spectacled Bears Investigate Frozen Treat

  • Mokoko The Gorilla Enjoying His Treat

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

  • Jess Prinsloo

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

  • Annie The Spider Monkey

    Annie the Spider Monkey investigating her new bucket puzzle feeder.

  • Karin Pienaar and Tammy Gregor

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

  • Delicious Icey Treat

  • Ground Hornbills

  • Reneé Venter Trust Training

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

  • Bucket Feeder For The Giraffe

  • 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

  • Mokoko The Gorilla

    Tyre feeders that we use as part of Mokoko the Gorilla’s 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!

  • Food Toys

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

  • Honey Badger

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

  • Tactile Enrichment

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

  • 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.

  • Feeder Platform

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

  • 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.

  • Hiding Treats In A Tree

  • 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's Frozen Treat

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

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

FOR ALL OTHER ENQUIRIES:
[email protected]