General Session 9 Abstracts
THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF WHOLE CARCASS FEEDINGS
Kirstin Anderson Hansen,
Whole carcass feeding often comes with some kind of discussion or debate about animal ethics. Arguments are often that the public can’t or won’t understand, it gives the wrong message to our guests, or is gross and disgusting.
From the animal welfare aspect, it can be considered inhumane and unethical.
In Odense Zoo, our carnivores are fed with whole carcasses every week. Horses, cows, and goats that are donated to the Zoo, or other animals that are culled from our own population, are used during these feedings that occur during the zoo’s open hours so our guest can see and enjoy “real“ carnivore behavior.
This kind of enrichment allows for the establishment of social behavior and social hierarchy within our lion population, stimulates hunting behavior in our lions and tigers, and provides excellent exercise for the jaws and teeth, as well as the nutritional benefits.
In the presentation I would like to present the advantages and disadvantages of whole carcass feeding and how our carnivores and guests are able to reap the benefits of this type of enrichment every day.
THE HOUSTON ZOO'S CARNIVORE ENRICHMENT PROGRAM:
PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
From its humble beginnings in the 1920s, the Houston Zoo has progressed so far as to be named one of Parents Magazine Top Ten Zoos for Children. Each year has brought forth new ideas and standards of animal care. We have transformed from the archaic concrete slab and bars to naturalistic exhibits that not only enhance guest viewing, but also take the animals’ welfare and needs into consideration. Environmental enrichment is arguably one of the most important aspects of those needs. Our enrichment program has supported the drive for naturalistic exhibits by encouraging those natural behaviors that guests are interested in seeing. In this presentation we will discuss the evolution of the environmental enrichment program at the Houston Zoo focusing on 1.4 African lions. We will review the carnivore enrichment program from its beginnings in the late 80’s to the program we utilize now, and the future of our program. From a lion’s perspective, the keepers at the Houston Zoo have evolved from housekeepers to a concierge service. In striving to provide the absolute best care for our lions, we realize that their mental and physical well-being is our responsibility. The evolution of our environmental enrichment program has allowed us to evaluate and change our tactics to give the lions as much choice, control, and freedom as possible. In order for our enrichment program to be “successful,” it has to change and evolve as a result of our observations, evaluations, and individual animals.