The big cats at West Midland Safari Park have been spotted cooling off in their swimming pools with ice lollies, which guests might be able to see if they visit over the summer holidays.
To coincide with the current heatwave and the Park’s extended opening hours for their Summer Nights event, carnivore keepers at the visitor attraction have been looking for ways to keep the lions and tigers nice and cool throughout the day, as well as provide enrichment for both the animals and guests to enjoy.
One simple, but very effective way of doing this, is by providing ‘bath toys’, which are placed in the pools around the carnivore reserves. These tempt the lions and tigers to then play in the pools, which is quite a spectacle for onlooking guests.
Another tactic is making ice lollies, suitable for a carnivore’s palette, so instead of being made of fruit, juice and water, are made of meat frozen in a mix of water and blood!
Head Keeper of Carnivores, Chris Hodgkins, said, “A huge part of our roles as keepers is providing the animals in our care with varied enrichment. This is very important, as it helps enhance the quality of their environment and care, as well as satisfying their behavioural and physiological needs. Different forms of enrichment involve food, sensory, social, cognitive and physical.
“Food is always very successful and can be used to encourage natural behaviours such as hunting. We do this by hiding meat or giving it to them in a challenging way by hanging the meat high or giving them frozen blood blocks. The pools are a form of physical enrichment and provide them with a place to bathe, drink and cool down. You will often see them cooling off or having a splash, especially over the summer in the warm weather.”
He continued, “During our extended hours of opening for Summer Nights, we provide daily enrichment that helps stimulate the cats for longer. Guests will be able to spot this whilst driving around the safari throughout the day and into the evenings.”
Summer Nights runs from 1 August – 1 September and guests will have more time to discover all the Park has to offer, including the four-mile, drive-through safari, walk-through attractions, Adventure Theme Park and animal encounters.
During Summer Nights, the Park will be open from 9:30am – 7:30pm. The lions and tigers can be seen the four-mile drive-through safari, which is included in the standard group admission charge of £11.00 for adults, £10.00 for children aged 3-15 and £10.50 for concessions based on ten or more paying passengers arriving by coach or mini bus. Children under the age of 3 are free. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Further information and tickets are available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari.