Scouts get to work in tiger’s den
Monday 18 July 2005
London Zoo recently saw the tiger enclosure awash with Scouts, as members of the Scout Network assisted keepers with a complete enclosure refurbishment.
Work started early on the Saturday morning as the enclosure was cleared, and finished late on Sunday with tree planting, wall cladding and the addition of environmental enrichment features for the Zoo’s two Sumatran tigers Lumpur and Raika.
Logmasters worked alongside ZSL staff and the networkers constructing shelters and platforms in the enclosure for the tigers. The tigers bask on top of these and they provide good vantage point to view their territory.
Many aspects of tigers behaviour are enhanced by the increased opportunities for environmental enrichment. A feeding pole is now part of their daily husbandry. This is a 6 metre tree trunk secured into the ground, the keepers hoist meat to the top of the pole and then the tigers have to climb up, grab the meat and jump down. This is great activity for the tigers and stimulates the quick burst of energy the tigers use in the wild to catch prey. The tigers use the same muscles to climb as they would to catch and subdue large ungulates.
The extra wooden structures provide many opportunities for olfactory enrichment. This is where new scents are introduced into the enclosure for the tigers to smell. The keepers use everything from dung to different aftershaves (Calvin Klein’s Obsession is a big hit) for the tigers to smell and interact with.
Large bamboos landscape the enclosure allowing the tigers to stalk each other and the keepers when they pass the exhibit.
Bill James, Operations Manager, London Zoo, said: “This is excellent, we wouldn’t normally be able to undergo projects like this due to labour costs but these young people have done a really great job, in fact they doubled the size of the team to enhance and improve the enclosure for both the Tigers and visitors to the zoo. It will ensure that the tigers have a great adventure when it opens. The Scouts have worked together, have gained new skills and certainly provided a professional quality to the work they are doing.”
The refurbishment is the first of many environmental projects in conjunction with the zoo, and brings Scout Network members from around Essex together to work towards the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award and Queen Scout Award.
Sumatran tigers originate from Indonesia, where they live in a rainforest environment, however they are set to become extinct if the trade in the species and the destruction of their habitat does not stop.
Raika and Lumpur, our Sumatran tigers, are part of a breeding programme to ensure the continued survival of this species, both in the wild and in captivity.