An 'enriching' CNY for wildlife parks' animals

Monkeys at the River Safari checking out the nuts in their festive red packets. Visitors to all wildlife parks from Feb 6 to 9 can catch animals enjoying their Chinese New Year goodies.
Monkeys at the River Safari checking out the nuts in their festive red packets. Visitors to all wildlife parks from Feb 6 to 9 can catch animals enjoying their Chinese New Year goodies.ST PHOTO: TAMARA CRAIU

Animals at Singapore's wildlife parks are set to have a swinging good time this Year of the Monkey.

Primates at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, for instance, will get "hongbao" in the form of food treats stuffed into red packets for them to open and take apart.

These "enrichment activities" are part of this year's Chinese New Year celebrations at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). Visitors can catch these animal antics from Feb 6 to 9.

Zookeepers have hung red packets filled with carrots and mealworms on tree branches for the tamarins and the langurs, while the squirrel monkeys at the River Safari will get peanuts and walnuts in their red packets.

WRS yesterday said the activities will take place once a day at different times so the animals "do not get used to them and start to anticipate the treats".

Mr Lua Boon Kong, 29, junior animal management officer at the zoo, said: "You can see the tamarins smelling and investigating the hongbao with the food inside. They will be perching on the branch... Sometimes they will be hanging upside down... this is all part of their natural behaviour."

WRS senior education executive Lim Wei Qian, 27, said: "In the parks, there are not many incentives for these wild animals to forage. Enrichment activities will prompt them to go around, explore and use the abilities that they would also use in the wild."

And over at Jurong Bird Park, a singing parrot will be wishing visitors Gong Xi Fa Cai, or prosperity.

Pang Xue Qiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'An 'enriching' CNY for wildlife parks' animals'. Print Edition | Subscribe