It is no secret that animals need entertaining just as much as humans do. This is normally made easier by the people that visit the zoo with the animals enjoying watching the many visitors pass by, and none more so than the chimpanzees.
Easing the boredom
During 2020, many visitor attractions had been forced to temporarily close, and that included zoos. And whilst some businesses can lay dormant for a while, of course, animals still need 24/7 care and attention. During the pandemic, the keepers at the many animal parks have had to come up with some creative ideas to help keep the animals stimulated, and two zoos in the Czech Republic came up with an interesting idea.
A creative idea
Dvůr Králové Safari Park and Brno Zoo in the Czech Republic decided that for their chimpanzees to remain stimulated and happy during their time with no visitors, they needed to come up with something unusual yet fun for their furry friends. Without the need for keeping areas clear outside their enclosures, they installed large screens to enable the chimps at both zoos to video call one another.
How did it go?
The screens were set up with a video call for around eight hours per day. Although they were muted, it was a big hit with the primates! Since chimpanzees spend a lot of time observing people – and their dogs since they were allowed to accompany their owners to the zoos – and playing games with them, this was a chance for them to engage with other animals and the staff tending their enclosures. The zookeepers are also sure that the chimps seemed to understand that the video was two-way and that they could see one another through the link. Some of the chimps would even bring their food over to the screen to show the newbies, and it appeared that they thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with their new friends. Some enjoyed it more than others, one of the chimps at Dvůr Králové Safari Park refused to move away from the screen to enable the zookeeper to clean their enclosure!
Will it be a long-term solution?
Although the chimpanzees have very much enjoyed the video calls, the keepers appreciate that they are likely to become bored and eventually find something else to focus their attention on. Due to this, it is unlikely this will be a long-term arrangement. However, during this time it has been a great way to keep their brains active, and to enable them to socialize with other chimps and keepers that they are unlikely to have had the opportunity to socialize with before. With this in mind, it does show the need for the keepers at the zoo to continue to provide new ideas for enrichment to keep these intelligent animals healthy and happy.
Like humans, chimpanzees need stimulation to keep them active. As the zookeepers at both the Dvůr Králové Safari Park and Brno Zoo have shown, something as simple as a video call could make all the difference.