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Text by Ng Wai Pak
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We have 12 bears in the centre. However, we only have 3 exercise enclosures. I am sure you might ask about those bears that were not in the exercise enclosures, what they would have for enrichment.
For those who are still waiting their turn to be released to the exercise enclosure, keepers will let them have others kind of enrichment. Ice lolly with fruits inside is every bear’s favorite especially during the hot day time. They will lick it, dig it with claws, rub it over their head and body, and some even bring it back to their sleeping basket and enjoy it!
Thanks for Maria Trenary from Oakland Zoo as they have sent us some dozen of “Kong” toy. Kong is a very hard rubber toy that is specially made for animals to bite. You can put food inside it to make it more interesting and fun.
What our centre used to do is put in fruits like bananas, apples, dog food, honey, and sugar cane. Then we will put them into the refrigerator to make the food inside the Kong become harder and cool.
I have to tell you our bears love Kong. They will spend time to dig the food, and lick it until the very last bit of fruits with their long tongue! They are not let go the Kong even though they have finished the food inside. They just like to play with the empty Kong by throwing them like a baseball!
Other than that, we also hang tire in the bear cage. Tires are the bear’s toy that we can get free and it is durable. Our bears like to bite the tire, spin it, or even bang it on the wall! They also love to climb on it and swing themselves together with the tire.
You can tell that the bears like tires with this video above.
In my opinion, a successful enrichment is something that can attract our bears to spend their times and make them feel like they are not kept in a cage. As a keeper, I know it is challenging, but it is so rewarding to see them enjoy the enrichment.