ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s youngest elephant Elizabeth is treated to an Easter egg hunt of giant proportions as UK’s largest zoo remains closed for the bank holiday.
Zookeepers created an egg-stra special Easter activity for ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s youngest elephant today (Wednesday 31 March), to kick off the Easter bank holiday weekend.
Four-year old Elizabeth, the youngest of the Zoo’s herd of endangered Asian elephants, was treated to an unusual egg-hunt - each of the huge, colourful eggs hidden by her keepers was in fact a giant watermelon, her favourite treat, decorated with edible paint.
With no visitors this Easter bank holiday, the Zoo’s hard-working team of keepers are taking extra efforts to ensure that the animals don’t miss out on the fun. With that in mind, the Zoo’s elephant keepers created the unique ele-egg-hunt to stimulate the young elephant’s natural curiosity and scavenging skills.
Team leader Stefan Groeneveld said: “We wanted to create an activity for Elizabeth that would engage her natural instincts to explore and investigate, as well as give her a fun treat for Easter week. Melons are her equivalent of a chocolate treat and decorating them meant that she got an extra surprise when she cracked them open and discovered what was inside!
“We can’t wait until Elizabeth and our elephant herd can be reunited with our visitors on – we hope – 12 April, as it will be amazing for both the animals and the humans to have that very magical experience again that comes from face-to-face interaction.”
For ZSL, the international conservation charity behind the Zoo, financial losses from forced closures have been devastating. With no government support, ZSL will have missed out on a potential £26million of income by 12 April, the earliest date on which zoos – even vast outdoor spaces like Whipsnade’s 600-acre site - will be permitted to reopen. Despite the trying circumstances, the Zoo’s keepers, vets and ground-staff have gone to enormous lengths over the past year to ensure the animals are as well cared-for as ever.
Stefan continued: “We’re looking to the future now and are so excited about the prospect of a wonderful summer, filled with unforgettable animal experiences for our visitors and members. We couldn’t have got through the past 12 months without their support and we can’t wait to have them back, exploring our huge Zoo and seeing Elizabeth and the herd in person.”