VISAKHAPATNAM: The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in the city will get four zebras from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) soon. Visiting the IGZP for teaching best enrichment practices, INPA expert team and The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, Jerusalem, was impressed with the IGZP management. They are also likely to replicate the reptile enclosures of Vizag Zoo at the Israel Zoo.
The expert team has taken photographs of the zebra enclosures and sent the photos to INPA authorities, after a proper documentation and discussions they would sign for the project with the Vizag zoo. “Impressed by the animals being kept in the natural habitat, they wanted to give zebras (two male, two female). Also the INPA is likely to do many projects together further,” said IGZP curator B Vijay Kumar.
The team interacted with the animal keepers in the Zoo, giving them creative ideas on how to keep the animals active all the day instead of keeping them dozed off in the enclosures. “The Vizag Zoo is very different compared to ours in Israel. It is very good but can be made wonderful if you add a pinch of enrichment to the animals,” said Ori Linial, a member of the INPA team.
Being a natural habitat, Ori felt that much more can be done to the animals. He felt animals were getting bored and would psychologically feel like being in a jail. Why not give them some entertainment which will make them refreshed. “All that the animal keeper has to do is, instead of giving feed in its bowl directly, try to hide it in the bushes or under the wooden table in the enclosure, which will make it go round its place, find the treasure and then enjoy the meal. Begin this activity first, after a few days the animal will definitely see what surprise will the keeper give for a day,” Ori added.
On the three new chimpanzees in the Zoo, Ori said, “Chimps are the smartest and very active, they need to have enrichment or they get psychological problems like behaving abnormally. While the Israel Zoo is very small with small cage for the chimps, we brought them here and the only thing animal keeper has to do is to know about the animal, as it takes some time to adapt to the new place.”
Sharing on his experiences at The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem, head keeper Shachar Kara said: “Our Zoo is spread over 62 acres land with more than 200 species, our enclosures are different and every animal has different enrichment which will change every day. Every keeper needs a passion and love for animals which we have in our Zoo. We also send our animal keepers abroad and call experts to teach them special courses for enrichment.” Some of the animals like Asiatic Lion, girafee, elephants and deer are bred in captivity by the INPA.
Shachar told Express that “Among the three Chiko is very active, while Chikita is calm. However, the chimps are 10 times stronger than humans, they are also thin and jump from the trees and escape, so we advised the IGZP to make some changes in the chimps enclosure like increasing the height of the wall to 7 metres from 5 metres. Giving cognitive and physical enrichment like hanging ropes, a gunni bag with dry grass and hiding food will stimulate their natural behaviour.”
“We are increasing the height of the wall to 7 metres in the chimps enclosure and as the enclosure was previously used by the baboons, we are sterilising and giving a white wash,” said Vijay Kumar.
“Animals always look for something new every day, we try to change the place where the animal sits everyday, which will
also be visible to the visitors. I got trained in Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad, 20 years back where I learnt about enrichment techniques. Being in this workshop I could know more which I would apply for the chimps and make them have a happy place in the Zoo,” said Y Appa Rao, animal keeper for the chimpanzees, who is previously the caretaker of leopards and cheetah.