What do they eat? Where do they sleep? Who cares for them?
Weekly Grocery List|
1 case apples
1 case bananas
6-8 lbs. grapes
1 case oranges
2 pints blueberries
10 lbs. carrots
1 case romaine lettuce
1 case green leaf
1 lb. spring mix
1 case yams
1 case fresh corn
1 lb. yellow squash
2-3 green peppers
4 heads kale
1 lb. snow peas
150-200 lbs. of meat
3-4 lbs. whole smelt
5 dozen eggs
Feeding the Animals
The animal keepers at the Brandywine Zoo prepare the food and feed the animals twice a day. The tiger eats about 8-1/2 - 13-1/2 pounds of meat a day. The zoo uses the services of a zoo nutritionist from the Philadelphia Zoo and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital to decide what to feed and how much to feed the animals. The keepers watch carefully what the animals eat and how much. They want to make sure the animals are getting a balanced diet. In the zoo kitchen, there are "menus" or diets posted for each species.
The animals are fed both specially prepared dry food, which is made by Purina for specific zoo animals, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The carnivores are fed chicken and prepared meats by Nebraska Brand meats. There are frozen mice and rats for those who eat rodents.
Animal Training and Enrichment
At The Brandywine Zoo we have historically trained the animals. However, through the introduction of "Operant Conditioning," we are now following a more structured method of training using a more positive reward system. We now have goals and methods and detailed records are kept of our progress. Animal training is basically teaching animals to modify a behavior to fulfill a set goal.
At the Brandywine Zoo our priority goals are:
Only keepers who are approved to work with designated animals are permitted to train these animals upon completion and approval of a written Animal Training Plan. Staff is encouraged to work with the animals they take care of on a daily basis in order to help maintain the behaviors already trained so that they have the opportunity to work on new goals and behaviors.
- Methods to improve animal management (daily care of the animal and its exhibit, crating, elimination of inappropriate behaviors, improved social relations)
- Health management (vaccinations, medications, handling, weights, early detection of illness)
- Program use for the public (keeper talks, outreach programs)
- Research (non-invasive)
- Fun interaction time between the animals and the keepers (behavioral enrichment, mental and physical stimulation)
- To enhance the animals' welfare (offering the animals a choice in their management)
Training helps to improve the management of these animals by easing medical care, movement in and out of areas, re-call skills, additional animal observation time, etc. Training also enriches the animals by adding variety to their day through contact with the keeper staff and challenging them physically and mentally.
Both target training and behavioral enrichment are tools used by almost all zoo keepers world-wide. These techniques have become valuable tools for animal keepers to better care for their animals.
Behavioral Enrichment Philosophy
The Brandywine Zoo animal keepers have incorporated behavioral enrichment activities into the zoo animals daily routines. The entire staff fully supports the concept of providing a variety of enrichment activities to encourage appropriate species behaviors of the animals. The enrichment stimulates behaviors which fulfill an animal's physical and psychological needs. The enrichment also offers the animals a sense of control by offering them the choice to interact with the stimuli or choose another activity or leisure. By introducing small changes to the animal's environment and food presentation, they may become better capable of adapting to changes in their environment. The behavioral enrichment also may promote more bonding time between the animal and the keeper staff which is highly desirable for the management of the animal.
At the Brandywine Zoo, the animals receive a variety of enrichment which stimulates all their senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing), and includes mental puzzles and physical challenges. Each staff member strives to offer enrichment to at least three animal species per day. This offers enrichment up to five times per week to most animals in the zoo.
The Behavioral Enrichment Program encompasses seven elements:
Behavioral Enrichment is offered in the following ways:
- Goal: What is the behavior goal of the animal following the introduction of the enrichment item?
- Planning: What enrichment items can be used to attain the behavior goal?
a. Research various enrichment ideas.
b. Discuss enrichment ideas, how to construct and safety issues with the Curator and Behavioral Enrichment Coordinator
- Write up and approval: Write up ideas and receive approval for any new ideas not previously approved.
- Implementation: Create enrichment, review safety guidelines in its construction and implement.
- Record: Record the animal's reaction to the enrichment.
- Evaluate: Was it what you expected? Was it a new behavior? Was it a natural behavior? Or was there little to no interest? Was it worth the amount of time it took to create the enrichment and implement it for the amount of interest it created? Did the animal's activity level increase? Were the zoo visitors more interested in the animal when it received enrichment? Did it make the animal stressed or did the animal seem calm or excited?
- Refine enrichment: Would there have been a more economical way to create the enrichment? How much mess did the enrichment create for the amount of interaction it created? Could there have been another way to design the enrichment to get more of a reaction? Was the enrichment unsightly to the visitors or did visitors stay longer?
The Brandywine Zoo staff has access to the AZA Behavioral Enrichment list server as well as computer access to the internet. The zoo receives the publication The Shape of Enrichment as well as Wellspring, a publication from the Animal Behavior Management Alliance. Also in the zoo library is Karen Pryor's book Don't Shoot the Dog, and Behavioral Enrichment in the Zoo by Hal Markowitz.
The staff has collaborated and created a notebook of behavioral information explaining the different stimulations for the different animal families. The notebook contains copies of the publications, e-mail printouts of useful behavioral enrichment ideas from other individuals and institutions, notes on the Brandywine Zoo animals, and historical data collected at the zoo of what has been offered to the animals and how successful it has been. The staff has also developed a computerized program for more accurate enrichment tracking and evaluation.
- Physical Environment: We offer each animal as natural a habitat as possible. We encourage the animals to naturally dig, swim or climb if that is a typical behavior for that animal. We use appropriate sized trees, branches, vines and ropes in all arboreal and flying species. Both vertical and horizontal space is utilized to its maximum. Exhibit furniture is routinely replaced or moved to create interest in their environment, and to promote exploration and activity. Various logs, evergreen trees, shades and dens are offered to hide in, rest in and explore. Logs are offered to climb on, to scratch on, and to hide behind. Pools are offered to water loving species. Warm zones are offered to many animals to bask outdoors in weather usually a little to cool for them thus offering them opportunity to stay outside longer. Many of the exhibits have natural dirt, sand and grass floors offering many opportunities to dig, forage for insects, and roll in mud. In some exhibits and dens we use man-made materials such as the Enviro-dri shredded paper bedding which offers the opportunity for animals to forage in, hide in, and is a soft to lay on.
- Daily Maintenance: Instead of offering the animals a dish everyday it may be scattered throughout the exhibit, hidden in a bag or box partially, left in larger pieces on the bone if it is meat or presented at a different time of day. The animal may do some target training to earn their meal. This gives the animal the benefit of interacting with the animal keeper, increasing activity, working for their food. Some animals are offered the opportunity to re-bed their dens themselves. They are given the bedding materials (i.e. hay, dry leaves, and towels) and they pull it into their dens or nest boxes and arrange it themselves. In the summer months some of the animals may be given a pool or bucket of water instead of their usual bowl of water. This gives them the opportunity to splash, forage and step into the water or dump the water to create mud zones for rolling in.
- Social Groupings: Whenever possible, all animals are in the correct social group for its species. Also considered is whether it would be a positive experience to have a mixed species exhibit.
- Scent and Taste: The staff uses a variety of herbs, spices, flavorings, perfumes, and animal scents around the animals' exhibits, furniture, and dens. While the primary animal is locked in their den for a short while, another small animal is given access to the exhibit to scent mark. This has been very exciting to many of the cats.
- Vision: The exhibits have observation platforms which offer different views for the animals. By using as many vertical zones, many of the animals can see other animals in their exhibits. The cats are particularly interested in changes made to other animal's cages or new species.
- Hearing: Radios, CD players, and cassette players are used in the sheds and hospital. The staff plays soft music, nature sounds, and some animal vocalizations for the animals that are indoors. For animals who will eat live insects, insects are hidden in a paper bag to create a rustling sound stimulating the foraging and hunting instinct of the animal.
- Touch: Animals with a sensitive sense of touch are stimulated by unusual surfaces, textures, objects, or temperatures. Different kinds of cloths, Jell-O, warm or cool bottles, anything out of the ordinary can be an interesting experience.
All of our animal enrichment records are kept by using an excel program on the computer located in the Administration Building. This computer is accessible to all keepers and administrative staff. The program allows us to keep track of all our animal enrichment notes. Each entry includes:
With this program we are able to track the frequency of enrichment for each animal by month. We can also break it down into different graphs to include how much of each type of enrichment was given in a month's time, determine which animals were given the most enrichment and which animals were given the least each month. We can track the rating of each enrichment item to ensure the animals get the most out of the enrichment offered.
- Type of Enrichment (sensory, Food, Social, habitat, or training) o Rating scale
- Keeper Comments
- Keeper Initials
The animal keepers are trained to provide excellent care to the Zoo's animals, ensure they are well fed and housed, and live enriched comfortable lives. Our animals also receive annual vaccinations, examinations, preventative treatments, and medical treatment plans by our veterinarians as needed to maintain good health. Sometimes the keepers observe the animals not feeling well or have injured themselves. They may notice an animal leaving food, looking lethargic, or acting unusually shy. Records are kept of the symptoms and this information is relayed to our veterinarians.
Our veterinarian is Dr. Lin Klein, formally of University Of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, New Bolton Center. She is responsible for overseeing the animal collection medically as well as the network of veterinarians from the Exotic and Large Animal Hospitals of University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and the local small animal hospitals that we utilize.
The veterinarians come to the zoo with their unique abilities and specialized equipment (x-rays, ultrasound, ophthalmology equipment, etc.) and utilize our hospital as the medical treatment site. The animal keepers and zoo vet techs assist with handling the animals and discussing their observations with the veterinarians. Together a medical treatment plan is designed specifically for each animal.
The keepers have to be very creative and determined to get some of the animals to take their medications as some of the meds taste quite bad to them. Over the years the keepers have a list of ways to hide meds in different foods:
Zoo animals hide many of their symptoms of illness as a protection in the wild. Our staff has to be highly observant, sensitive to the needs of the animals, patient, creative and well educated to ensure the treatment plans will help the animals, not cause more stress and injury.
- Coatis will take their meds if they are spread on live mealworms.
- Tamarins will take theirs in a marshmallow.
- Owls will takes theirs in a small mouse.
- Otters try to find their meds so they have to be crushed very fine so they don't taste or feel it.
- The tiger can usually have her pills hidden in little chunks of meat.