Keeper Diary - November
Recently I have been combining my zoo keeping duties with the keeper’s course and this has been keeping me very busy. I have been spending a lot of time up at the sloth bears enclosure on the Mappin terraces, and working alongside the other bear keepers revamping our older bear Lanka’s paddock.
Lanka has not had an ideal life previous to coming to London as is the case with so many Sloth bears in their native Sri Lanka, but, with lots of hard work her life and behaviour has been massively improved. Because of her past, Lanka is mistrustful of humans and it takes a lot of time before you form a bond with her in the same way that you do with the other bears, but, I really feel that I truly understand Lanka and how best to be around her. Previously, she had always ignored me or at best been grumpy and aggressive towards me, but now she is excited to see me. She gets lots of enrichment in the form of hidden sacks of food, puzzle feeders which need shaking and pine cones hung up with honey dripped into them. This keeps her active both physically and mentally, making her work to get her food like she would need to naturally.
I was particularly pleased this week as I built a swing out of three old tyres and hung it from Lanka’s bridge in her paddock. I then placed a selection of her food items in the top tyre and watched in delight as she climbed and swung around trying as she did to suck up meal worms through her vacuum like mouth. She has been playing with it every day since and it is clear to see the fun she is having. This is great to see and shows what can be made with relative ease that provides the animals with such happiness. It has left me very happy as well because I really feel that I am making a really positive difference to a misunderstood, but, very lovely playful and intelligent animal.
More news next time………………