Surely you don't play with food – or do you?
That does indeed quite surprise our Gorilla Ivo: What exactly is that square thing in his section? It looks like a tree trunk – but it is yet somehow different. What Ivo doesn't yet know: The new tree trunk is no tree trunk. But a feeding machine – a so-called "Poke box". "Poke boxes are sturdy boxes with two transparent outer walls. Inside there are porous draws whereupon feed is provided on the top drawer via an automatically controlled box", explains Zoo vet André Schüle. "The animals will have to use their own tools to maneuver the goodies through all draws to the bottom."
Ivo curiously approaches the feed machine and examines the territory intruder. It looks peculiar, but has some delicious smells of baby carrots and pellets drifting out. Oh dear! Hunger and curiosity are aroused! The silverback intuitively seizes the feed dispenser and shakes it powerfully as a start. Nothing happens: Again! Yet the feed still remains behind the glass. After a moment's thought, the silverback snaps a twig and pokes around after the tasty treats fully focused. He finds it a little difficult but eventually gets the hang of it – the snacks fall into his hand. Fully content, Ivo chews away at the conquered feed.
This scene is observed across all great apes in Zoo Berlin after a few days. Thanks to the Marie-Luise Below Foundation, five brand new feed boxes have been installed for fun and games for the bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans to enjoy. Whereas the latter empties the feed boxes at lightning speed, even using their mouths, the gorillas take a relatively heavy approach. But they all have one thing in common: No sooner has the box been emptied that they are waiting on the replenishments.
The food boxes with the special gimmick
Pfff, they are a long time coming... The feed boxes have an integrated time switch and it simply cant be anticipated when the next portion is released. Up to 12 portions can be released each day without the animal keeper having to enter the enclosure. Great fun for the monkeys – and a relief for the keepers. They only have to be filled up once in the morning and the times set. The feeding box does the rest. And of course, the animals.
Poke boxes are an important means of behavioural enrichment
The activity programme is not only used for the entertainment of the animals. They also contribute to the health of the animals and provide them with new stimuli that can challenge and encourage them. This so-called "Behavioural enrichment" is an important area in animal management, which includes many factors that concern the design and equipment of the enclosures through to feed or the joint upkeep of various animal species and social contacts right through to specialized toys.
Animal activity workshop at the Zoo
Become a toy builder! Use the gray autumn days and help our monkeys with an exciting engagement activity. You will handicraft interaction materials for our zoo animals and then observe how they react to them afterwards in our new animal activity workshop. You will be surprised as to how intelligent marmosets are. You can register for the workshop here.