Christmas has come early for Monarto Safari Park’s Chimpanzee troop, with Santa making a special delivery of festive themed enrichment today.
Keepers swapped khaki for Santa hats as they hid a sleigh full of enrichment gifts around the habitat for the troop of twelve chimps.
Monarto Safari Park’s Chimpanzee keeper, Sarah Washford, said the troop enjoyed hours of fun tearing into enrichment.
“Chimpmas is one of our favourite days on the calendar and it’s the biggest haul of enrichment the chimps receive.
“Themed enrichment is not only a fun way to involve the chimps in the Christmas spirit, but importantly encourages them to express natural behaviours to find treats hidden inside enrichment boxes,” said Sarah.
Boxes were filled with delicious nuts and fruit as well as visual enrichment with squishy balls and paper mache animals.
With the help of Monarto Safari Park’s BEEZA (Behavioural Environmental Enrichment for Zoo Animals) volunteer group, enrichment boxes are just one way keepers make every day different for the animals at the park. Sound enrichment, such as music, or visual enrichment, in the form of photos or books, are other ways keepers help keep the chimps mentally stimulated.
It was a double celebration as the team also celebrated male chimp Happy who turns one tomorrow.
“It’s been so nice watching how big sister Hope and other young chimps Zola and Zuri have taken on duties to help watch over Happy and carry him around the habitat.
“Happy loves to play and is always seeking out a game with Hope and Zola,” she said.
Happy is the youngest chimp at the park, but he won’t keep this title for much longer. The team are thrilled to share Lani the 21 year old chimp is pregnant, due in the second quarter of 2024.
Chimpanzees are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and every birth is a positive step forward in saving the species from extinction.
It’s estimated there are between 150,000 to 300,000 chimps remaining in the wild, with habitat loss posing a major threat due to logging, mining, palm oil plantations and population growth.
One way Zoos SA is working to protect chimps in the wild is by supporting the use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, where oil is produced in a sustainable way that aims to protect the last remaining habitat for wildlife and preserve the livelihoods of producers.
Creating a Christmas menu that uses Certified Sustainable Palm Oil ingredients is easier than ever this year, with Zoos SA leading the launch of the Palm Oil Scan app in Australia. Using the app, the public can scan grocery items and purchase products made by companies that source Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.
Both Monarto Safari Park and Adelaide Zoo are open 365 days a year, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.