Monday, September 27, 2010

Lion lure line

Posted by: Rebecca Whitham, Communications



Lions sleep. A lot. But when not sleeping, their instinct is to stalk and hunt prey. To nurture those instincts and add some excitement to our lion exhibit—both for the lions and for visitors—our keepers recently experimented with the addition of an enrichment lure line. The lure line is basically a pully system stretching across the exhibit that allows the keepers to whiz a piece of meat or other tempting treat through the air, enticing the lions’ instincts and springing them into hunting action.

We did the first test of the lure line last week and had surprising results. Keepers expected Kalisa, our female lion, to show the most interest, but it was in fact Hubert, our male, who had the biggest reaction. As the line whizzed past the pair, Kalisa cautiously observed, following its movement with her head.

Hubert was the first to approach. Swinging with his paws, he got the chicken into the grip of his claws and mouth and ripped it off the line. The second pass of the line was also taken down by Hubert, but he did share his snack with Kalisa.

The line is a dynamic new form of behavioral enrichment for these lions that can add infinite variety as we change what snacks, scents and items we attach and send into the exhibit. But, like all enrichment, it’s most meaningful to the lions when it isn’t predictable. So if on your next visit you happen to see the lure line in action, you’ll be as excited as the lions are to catch such a special treat.

Photos by Rachel Gray/Woodland Park Zoo.

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