Animal centre

Behind the scenes of the animal centre

There are five animal assistants who work at the centre.  A large part of their role involves working behind the scenes to look after the animals and their needs.

Cleaning

One of the least glamorous but most important roles is to maintain a high level of cleanliness in all the animal enclosures. All enclosures are cleaned once a day and given a complete scrub down once a week.

The cleanliness of the enclosures is vital in maintaining the health of the animals and ensuring no build up of any harmful pathogens in the animal’s environment.

The messiest animals are the kune kune pigs, who like nothing better than to wait for their food to arrive and then throw it around their enclosure.

Feeding

The diet provided to the animals is the major control for maintaining good animal health. The shopping list for the animal centre contains everything from hay, fruit and vegetables to meat products for the ibis and walnuts for the pallas squirrels.

Diets play a crucial role in maintaining the animals to the highest standard. If the animals become overfed or underfed it can have serious health implications. To ensure this does not happen we weigh the food that goes into and out of the enclosures. This has thrown up some interesting results especially:

  • the mara who love munching on apples
  • the seasonal feeding of the spreo Starlings as breeding season approaches

The research we carry out also acts as an early warning system for any health problems the animals may have.

Presentation of the food is also vitally important. Most of the animals' diet is given to them in feeding dishes to ensure the food is eaten off a clean surface.

All animals get enrichment on a daily basis. Enrichment stimulates natural behaviour by encouraging them to search for their food. You may well see the kune kune pigs taking food from their enrichment balls or the monkeys opening Hessian sacks to see what is inside.

Feeding time is often the best part of any animal’s day so we work hard to ensure they get the most out of it as possible.