Column - View from Flamingo Land Zoo

Ring-tailed lemurs make use of the climbing ropes and nets.
Ring-tailed lemurs make use of the climbing ropes and nets.

During the winter season here at Flamingo Land it is a good time to carry out a lot of our yearly maintenance within the park.

Some of this upkeep includes checking and replacing the nets and ropes within the children’s play area we have in the zoo. Instead of allowing the discarded equipment to go to waste, some of our keepers have recycled them and used them as environmental enrichment for their animals.

This especially meant a treat for some of our primate species, giving them a new novelty to explore.

Environmental enrichment is an integral part of our animal’s lives as it enhances their well-being by encouraging natural behaviours allowing them to carry out actions like they would do in the wild.

Enrichment can take many forms and aims to stimulate animals both mentally and physically by making a change to their environment.

This means simple items such as ropes and nets can transform an animal’s environment creating a new playground for them which will encourage a natural curiosity and bring out species appropriate behaviours.

Some of the primates in the zoo that received the recycled equipment were our group of lemurs.

We have three species of lemur within our walkthrough exhibit including ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), red-bellied lemurs (Eulemur rubriventer) and mongoose lemurs (Eulemur mongoz).

Just like humans who get so much joy out of running around and climbing ropes and nets within an adventure play area, so do our lemur relatives who like all primates have evolved from a common ancestor and share similar traits with us.

Primates have hands that are comparable in structure to the human hand and they are able to grip when climbing. This means our lemurs are able to use the playground equipment similar to how humans would to manoeuvre around.

In the wild lemurs love to jump and climb and will do it for fun just like humans but they will also use their ability to forage for food in the trees, jumping from branch to branch. By providing this new enrichment it gives them additional opportunities to carry out these behaviours like they would do in the wild.