Big Cats & Plastic Bobbins

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Each year at our Wild Affair fundraiser in October, the animal care staff puts together a wish list of items that they would like to purchase for the animals. They are all enrichments that are something out of the ordinary to stimulate and entertain the animals.

As part of the thank you to the donor, we take pictures of the animals with their sponsored item. Last week it was all about the big cats and plastic bobbins and thought you might enjoy a play-by-play!

First stop: Tigers
Two bobbins were placed on exhibit and mom was the first to find one! Jingga the cub was fairly cautious of the new item and kept creeping up to mom and then running away to observe it from a safe distance. Meanwhile mom was rubbing her head on the scent covered bobbin and carrying it around.

Jingga finally found the other bobbin near the viewing window and after a few rounds of creep up and runaway, she settled into batting it around and following it as it rolled downhill.

Second stop: Snow Leopard
Shanti is notorious for rubbing on anything with an interesting scent so it was no surprise that she promptly hunkered down on a grassy area and proceeded to rub her head, chin and neck all over the bobbin leaving behind a trail of saliva. She would even hold it still with both of her huge paws to get better rubbing leverage.

Third stop: Lions
The lions were non-stop action! After quickly running out on exhibit and claiming their toys the male and female moved to opposite sides of the exhibit to explore their enrichment. He started by licking the bobbin and puncturing it so he could carry it around. He was the only one of the big cats that did that easily!

She took a more playful approach and took turns between rubbing and licking the bobbin and batting it around between the rocks and tree limbs. That made quite a lot of clatter which piqued the interest of the male. After claiming her bobbin for his very own, the female went in search of his abandoned toy and they settled in again to continue their routine.

It was a fun morning at the Zoo and the next time you visit, look around the exhibits for things like cardboard boxes, large boomer balls, burlap sacks and even tree limbs. Those are all enrichments that zoo keepers place to help keep the animals active.

And as a bonus, watch the video of the lions below or view on Youtube!

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