Staff at West Midland Safari Park have been treating their big cats to some seasonal gifts – their very own Easter eggs.
To coincide with the Park’s Easter Eggstravaganza, whilst guests can enjoy the spectacle of 50 giant eggs, dotted around the Park, keepers created some large papier-mâché eggs for the animals, complete with colourful animal print patterns.
The Easter treats were then used as enrichment for the Park’s cheetahs and Sumatran tigers. Keepers filled the eggs with bits of meat and placed them in the big cats’ enclosures, ready for their very own Easter egg hunt!
Carnivore Keeper, Kasha Carter, said, “Enrichment is really important for all of our carnivores and we have a varied enrichment programme, which we implement daily. This includes things like boomer balls, puzzle boxes, scent trails, hide and seek (with meat) and novelty items such as these papier-mâché eggs. Enrichment simulates natural behaviours and keeps them active, so it’s an important part of a keeper’s job and we enjoy coming up with new ideas.”
She continued, “We loved watching the big cats with their Easter treats and it was really interesting to see how the different species reacted to them. The cheetahs are quite naturally cautious, so Cody and Epezi approached the eggs warily, before nudging them aside to find the meat.
“By contrast, our female tiger, Hujan, ran excitedly straight to them and started playing with them, tossing them in the air and rolling them around, using her paws. She then carried them away to protect them from her companion Nakal and started tearing them apart to get to the meat hidden inside. We hope all of our guests have just as good a time eating their chocolate eggs, as our big cats!”
The Park is home to five different species of carnivore and there is an enrichment programme tailor made for each group’s different behaviours and interests. For example, the African wild dogs love anything they can destroy as a team, whereas just like a domestic cat, the lions cannot resist a cardboard box (albeit a very large one!).
Eagle-eyed visitors may be able to spot different forms of enrichment as they explore the Park this Easter. They will also be able to take part in an interactive Eggsplorer’s Trail, where they will have to find the missing eggs hidden around the Park, to be rewarded with a chocolate treat.
There will also be an exclusive competition, which involves guests taking a picture with the final egg on the trail and posting it to the Safari Park’s Facebook page, to be in with the chance of winning a Family Annual Pass.