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Research/Care Blog

Koko's Birthday Getaway by Adrienne Mrsny

Date Added: 2007-08-05

Birthdays come only once a year. It is always a great excuse for celebration, a chance to relax and often times a reason to get away. For Koko’s birthday we weren’t exactly able to get her a first class ticket to a tropical isle. So, instead we did the next best thing, we brought paradise to her.

On the morning of Koko’s Birthday Luau, when the gorillas exited their rooms into the small yard, they stepped into a tropical beach scene. Fifty feet of 4 -foot high panels graced with palm trees, parrots and sand lined the yard walls. Flowered leis adorned the stuffed animals that greeted them, and brightly painted tropical fish dangled from the ceiling. As they stepped through the west gate to the large yard a larger expanse of tropical paradise opened before them. Grass skirts hung on a nearby cement cylinder, leis were placed around the yard, plastic kiddy pools floated fun toys and large cloth streamers hung across most of the yard. Three large sheets read “Happy Birthday Koko” and were surrounded by paintings of exotic tropical flowers. Just beyond this were the treats for the morning.

More brightly colored fish hung all over the yard. These were made of cardboard and once they were pulled down and opened, they were revealed to hold the day’s morning browse of fresh vegetables. There were also berry baskets, hanging from strings around the yard. Brightly colored paper was inside each basket holding a surprise treat. Lastly there were three “trees” in the yard, two made from a 10cm thick cardboard tube with leafy limbs of bamboo sticking out of the top. These had slats of cardboard stuck out of their sides, and when pulled a special treat dropped from the chamber above the slat and fell out the bottom. The third was a 9-foot tall glamorous shimmering palm, suspended from the top of the yard. While both gorillas were exploring this fun tropical holiday, their rooms were being cleaned and transformed.

When lunch was ready, the Luau was about to start. Caregivers carried four trays into each of the gorilla’s rooms. Banana leaves were wrapped around a medley of steamed vegetables and poi. Edible fruit baskets were made from hollowed out personal-sized watermelons and filled with flowers fashioned from fruits and vegetables sitting atop of bamboo stems with leaves, with real flowers strewn in between. Next to this were two of Koko’s requests for the menu: rice noodles with pesto sauce and sparkling apple cider. In addition to the traditional phenomenal gelatin creations with fruits and vegetables inside, was Koko’s third request: sardines in aspic. Then last but not least was the cake, positioned on a shallow tray of gelatin made with chocolate almond milk and cherries. It was a miniature pineapple upside down layer cake—wheat free, dairy free and delicious. This was the Hawaiian-inspired feast that awaited both gorillas.

Ndume entered his rooms to find stuffed animals adorned with leis and traditional Hawaiian shirts surrounding three large boxes full of wrapped toys, bubble wrap (which he loves to pop), and popcorn (which he loves to eat by the handful). Following the motto of Ernestine Ulmer that “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first,” Ndume went straight for the cake, licking the plate of gelatin beneath clean before devouring the rest of his food.

Koko entered her rooms moments later to find them transformed into a tropical hut. Leis were everywhere, on the mesh, around the necks of her stuffed animals, and on windows. Beautiful flower print fabrics were draped across all of her furniture, along with a gorilla-sized flowered mu`umu`u hanging from the mesh. In the center of it all was a very large box, a box that was almost too big to fit into her room. “Happy Birthday Koko!” was scrolled across the side and flowers were painted on the cloth on top. Inside were piled 2 feet of exciting new toys for Koko, each individually wrapped, with flowered cloth in between. In her kitchen area Penny and Ron awaited with her feast, and everyone was excited to celebrate another wonderful birthday together.

Happy 36th Birthday Koko!

Research/Care Blog

Ndume's Birthday 'Camp' by Adrienne Mrsny

Date Added: 2007-10-28
When I design the gorillas' parties I look for things that are universally fun for humans and can be successfully translated to be just as fun for the gorillas. This year's birthday theme for Ndume (Oct. 10) came from an idea I had for a simple daily enrichment event. Upon thinking about it further I realized the only way to make this enrichment idea work for a birthday party was to make it really, really big. With our favorite outdoorsman Ndume's birthday coming up, it seemed like a perfect fit: we would give Ndume a day of camping for his birthday.
Ndume's indoor yard is converted to a “campsite”

The day of October 10th brought a cold morning and soggy ground from a storm that hit the night before. There was some concern that the gorillas would not want to go out, so we decorated the large yard sparsely, and focused our effort on the enclosed areas, like the small yard and 'gorilla bungalow' which were decorated in more detail. We transformed the yards and bungalow into a series of 'campsites,' giving Ndume the chance to look into each one. He found tents made of bed sheets, and sleeping bags containing forest-themed stuffed animals for him to play with.
One of many “tents” in the outdoor yard
In front of most tents there was a campfire, made from a red or orange origami paper balloon and filled with popcorn, while empty paper towel rolls filled with the morning's browse (raw veggies and fruit) lay beneath like firewood. Inside the tents there lay backpacks and water bottles, filled with more of his morning browse and special treats. A 'forest' was created in the small yard with large branch clippings woven into the mesh, giving the impression of shrubs. A 'tree' was also added – a cardboard roll from linoleum, with green painted cardboard slats inserted into the sides and food in paper balls hidden between each layer, to be revealed only when a slat was pulled. Finally, there was the 'lake' made of blue paper, with water-themed toy animals and again hidden treats to be found and consumed. Everyone was hoping for sunlight and a warmer day by the time the gorillas would be let into the yard.
“Picnic Blanket”

The sun was peeking though the clouds, but it was still a little cold for Koko to go out into the yard. Then it was time for Ndume to go out. He sat quietly next to me at the mesh for a moment, then turned his attention to the open chute and the small yard beyond. He gave out a purr and briskly walked right to the 'campfire,' devouring the popcorn inside. I left him pulling apart the various campsites and looking at the new enrichment items, while I helped clean and set up his room.

The smaller space of Koko and Ndume's bedrooms allowed us to more thoroughly transform the surroundings, creating more of a feeling of a forest. In Ndume's room, there was a cardboard 'tree' even larger than the one in the yard. This one had a picnic blanket with a stuffed bear and plastic fruits awaiting beneath. Hung from the light was another origami balloon filled with popcorn; this one was bright yellow and painted as a beehive. Scattered amongst the room were boxes of presents painted with forest animals on the sides. In his sleeping quarters, Ndume's entire bench was covered with freshly picked yellow and red maple leaves (his favorite treat this time of the year) giving the impression of a forest floor. His room truly looked like a campsite in the forest.

Once Ndume had finished searching the yard for treats he began pacing around the yard in a very excited manner. He eagerly watched from the mesh closest to us as we carried in the finishing touches for the camping motif. He was clapping and knocking loudly to get our attention to let him into his room. Ndume then sat on a shelf in the southwest corner of the yard that allowed him to watch us in the kitchen. He again began purring as we placed his meal.

“Honeycomb” “Bug” Food

Research/Care Blog

Ndume Weighs In by Adrienne Mrsny

Ndume sits on a comfortable rubber mat.

Date Added: 2008-03-19

Using operant conditioning to motivate Ndume to cooperate in health-related tasks is an enjoyable and challenging job that I feel lucky to have. I have worked with him on big tasks (sitting in the Gorilla Bungalow building and letting me close him in, to prepare him for spending the night there) and small tasks (opening his mouth on cue so we can inspect the color of his gums and condition of his teeth).

Recently I was presented with this challenge: obtain Ndume's cooperation with being weighed on a portable scale. I was given a large platform scale that Koko used to use, and placed it at the mesh in the caregiver area of his building. From here, Ndume was able to inspect the device by putting his fingers through the mesh to touch it. As this point, I began researching similar situations and how zoo keepers have approached comparable challenges. I came across an article where staff at the Baltimore Zoo trained a white rhino to approach and be weighed with a mock scale that was later replaced with the real scale (Pill & Hange, 2000*). Their approach seemed to be the perfect fit for working with Ndume. He would be introduced to the mock scale through the mesh and then, when he was comfortable, it would be placed in his room. After getting him to sit on the mock scale on cue, the steps would be repeated using the real scale. In this way, any initial curiosity or nervousness would not damage the real (and expensive) scale.

His initial response to the real scale indicated how he might behave when given full access to it. When Ndume wanted to gain attention from a caregiver or make a point that he was upset about something, he would position himself against the mesh where the scale was on the other side, poke his finger through the mesh and shove the scale with all his might until it moved an inch or 2 away from the mesh. He would then immediately gallop away.

A mock scale was made out of birch plywood and nontoxic silver metallic spray paint to replicate the real scale. This scale was then swapped with the real scale and placed against the room's mesh in the same spot. At first Ndume seemed to notice the physical difference and treated the mock scale with less interest. However, one day in a moment of frustration, he put his finger through the mesh and shoved the scale. Still not the desired attitude, but it was a good sign that he was viewing the mock scale in the same way he viewed the real one.

When Ndume's somewhat mischievous attitude towards the mock scale (which I'll henceforth refer to as the 'scale') seemed to pass, it was time to introduce the 'scale' into his room. I chose a rainy day when I knew Ndume would be likely to stay inside for much of the day. I placed the 'scale' at the same spot along the mesh but inside his room and placed his lunch in the far room. I gave Ndume access to his rooms for lunch and closed him inside. He calmly entered the room and walked past the 'scale' to his food, only glancing at it out of the corner of his eye. After 30 minutes of eating, Ndume had finished looking for bits of food and seemed to suddenly notice the 'scale.' He walked towards it and sat next to it. The first thing he did was look at the underside of the 'scale.' He sniffed this area, scratched at the posts, licked it and tried to gently bite it, testing its texture. Then he proceeded to test its strength. He stood on it with all of his weight on his knuckles. Then he tried to pry the sides apart. Once he was satisfied with this investigation, he walked away.

After a few moments of circling his rooms to search for overlooked food, his interest in the 'scale' resumed. Ndume returned to testing its strength, this time with his full body standing on it. Ndume then sat down on the scale, modeling perfectly what I planned to train him to do. Before I could comment and reward him, he tucked the 'scale' under his arm like a newspaper and walked upright into the far room. Here he began to roll it on his back, cleaning it with blankets, and in a moment of pure pleasure throwing blankets into the air and onto his head announcing his pleasure with loud purring and smiling the whole while. When I moved to the window closest to him to get a better look, he collected the 'scale' up again and moved to the original end of the building. Ndume spent he rest of the day playing and resting on his 'scale.' When dinnertime arrived, I placed his meal in a separate room and was able to close the door and safely move the 'scale' back to the caregiver area overnight.

The following day I placed the 'scale' in his room again. This time I left it in even longer in hopes that he would lose interest in it with extended exposure. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect. The 'scale' had become his favorite plaything - the entire rainy day spent by him shoving it between rooms with a pile of blankets.

I had the following two days off, which allowed me some time to reassess how I would approach the next phase of Ndume's scale conditioning. At the outset, I had been prepared for him to be either aggressive or bored with the scale, not for him to see it as his new toy or favorite place to sit. I finally concluded that the only way to proceed would be by desensitizing him to the 'scale.'

Upon my return to work, I placed the 'scale' in his room again during his lunch. However, this time I joined him sooner than normal, and he was still eating when I entered the caregiver area of his rooms. Ndume had just finished eating and the 'scale' was where I had left it. I called Ndume over to the mesh and without asking, he sat perfectly on the 'scale.' I praised him and thus began our formal 'scale' training sessions together.

We have been working steadily for over a week now and Ndume no longer carries the 'scale' around. If he does happen to move it from its original placement, he will push it back at my request. I do miss seeing him carrying the 'scale' around, but I am glad we are on our way to getting him to work with us on the real scale for health and diet-related weight checks.

* Reference:
Pill, L. & Hange, B. (2000). Using Operant Conditioning to Weigh 11 Southern White Rhinos. Animal Keeper's Forum, 27, 10.

Research/Care Blog

Making a New Friend ...by Tyler Robertson

Silverback Ndume can be both intimidating and charming.

Date Added: 2008-06-25

As a new caregiver at the Gorilla Foundation it’s hard to know what to expect from the first few months of training. You understand your job title (gorilla caregiver) and your supposed role, but there’s really no way of understanding what you’ll really be doing until your training begins.

For the first few weeks you have to tread lightly on the facility grounds making sure to keep your distance from the gorillas. Though you rarely see or hear the gorillas, they are constantly watching you. Half intrigued, half suspicious, Ndume kept me in my place by barking or chest slapping at me to show me who the real silverback of the property was. But as he became more familiar with my presence, and the fact that I would be sticking around for quite some time, he allowed me to move closer to his yard. It had taken me about a month, but I was finally able to spend some “quality” time with Ndume just yards away from his outdoor enclosure. This didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned. For the first week or two he would gallop past me in a display and show his aggressive stance while I had to do my best to remain calm, not make eye contact, and to act as if there wasn’t a 425 lb. silverback gorilla (with the strength of five men mind you) trying to get my attention. Luckily this all passed quite quickly and within a couple of weeks he barely paid me any mind. I must admit, however, that all of the attention had felt kind of nice and now I was feeling more like an observer than a participant. But with Ndume's newfound comfort came the ability to feed him some of his daily meals, a truly special experience.

Much like myself, Koko and Ndume live for their meals. Every day they receive beautiful meals prepared by our caregivers and volunteers using fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and other special treats. I don’t eat nearly as well as Koko and Ndume so you can imagine the pleasure they derive from every meal. Feeding them their meals give you quite a bit of leverage because there's not much they will let stand between them and their food, not even a brand new caregiver. At first I stayed at a distance (but within eyesight) as another caregiver did the feeding. Ndume reacted well enough and everyday I would inch closer and closer. By the second week I was able to feed him some of his more special items through the mesh of a small window and by the third week I could deliver an entire meal myself. Now as if the rest of the training hadn't been exciting enough, the feeling of dropping a piece of fruit directly into a gorilla's mouth is utterly irreplaceable. Ndume's head takes up the entire window!

After I started feeding Ndume his meals regularly he stopped worrying so much about my presence. I could be within feet of him at any given moment and he would remain calm. This is not to say that he was completely comfortable with me for he would still occasionally give me impressive displays to remind me (as if I'd forgotten) that he's the one in charge. But now, more and more often, he would let out an affectionate 'purr,' almost hesitantly as though he didn't think I deserved one just yet. In fact the term 'purr' can be quite deceiving, because the first time I heard the word used in this context I thought it was a noise made out of anger, more like a low lion's growl. But when you hear a full-grown silverback gorilla 'purr' like a cat, you can't help but feel good about your work.

It had taken me a little over 3 months to become fully trained and even then Ndume hadn't completely opened up to me. He was comfortable with me performing all the necessary caregiver duties, but he still hadn't fully accepted me as a person.

Now, some 5 months after my first day, I sit in the yard with Ndume on a warm summer day and hear two claps; the sign that he wants to play 'chase' and he wants to play now. I get up and begin running the border of the yard. Ndume lets out another chest slap, only this time I know it's a playful gesture, quite different from the chestslaps I was receiving months prior. As he gallops across the yard and I run after him he looks back at me with a smile and I can’t help but think, 'I've made a new friend.'

Research/Care Blog

Mission Ndume by Adrienne Mrsny

Ndume was in awe of his celestial birthday celebration

Date Added: 2008-11-04

Holiday celebrations at the Gorilla Foundation are a chance to give the gorillas a day out of the ordinary. With a bit of imagination and a few key enrichment pieces, the yard and bedrooms can be transformed into a different world. For Ndume’s birthday this year (Oct. 10, 2008) we went as far out as you can get, we went to space.

The large yard was transformed into a lunar surface. The ground became a silver terrain with large craters, created with silver tarps and large plastic buckets beneath. To the right , there was a large waterfall of cascading green ooze that bubbled in a lake (made of green tarps) below. Bubbles were made with green paper origami balloons, filled with popcorn and nuts (100% edible). The “lake” was complete with large floating branches and a huge mutant turtle.

Further down the yard was the “rocket ship” that would get our brave interplanetary gorilla explorers home. The ship’s facade was made from a very large corrugated tube with sturdy pieces of paper to form the fins and the nose cone. Ndume eventually discovered that the only way to get into the rocket was (unfortunately) by knocking it on its side, and pulling out all the toys and treats inside.

To complete this stellar scene there were “shooting stars” all around the yard. Since Koko has been known to eat paper, standard piñatas were out of the question. As a convenient alternative, cardboard, string and paint were used to make these star “piñatas”, which spilled out veggies and popcorn when shaken or opened.

Ambassador Koko was (as usual) the first to explore the new terrain, investigating each component carefully. Shortly after she was joined by her fellow explorer and birthday boy, Ndume. Together they explored the terrain, searching for food hidden amongst the strange lunar scene. Koko then watched from her perch, enjoying the warm sun on the crisp fall day, while Ndume turned over every last stone searching for food, then finally rested in the sun on the silver tarps.

  Mission Ndume Slideshow (click to play)
At lunchtime, “stars”, tiny “planets” and “rockets” awaited both gorillas in their rooms along with presents and a feast. The rockets were made from paper towel rolls, with a plug attached to a string, so the string could be pulled and the contents (tasty treats) would release. In their excitement, both gorillas ignored the apparatus and simply pulled each rocket down , pouring the contents out of the top. The “planets” were much easier to figure out. They were made from cardboard apple holders tied together, and when shaken expelled food.

Presents were another highlight for both gorillas. Ndume spent a lot of time looking through his packages and inspecting every detail, he was especially curious about the tissue paper, carrying it around on his head at one point.

Despite the above attractions the feast, as always, took center stage. The feast was full of “planets” (beets), “aliens” (artichoke hearts with frizze for arms, and porcupine meatballs), “flying saucers” (falafel discs), and a “rocket ship” (gorilla rice crispy squares) for dessert. Ndume burst into his primary room with a loud purr and spun in circles into his secondary room which contained the meal. He purred loudly throughout lunch. I brought drinks over to him at the window to enjoy with his meal.

Ndume was so overwhelmed with excitement that he tried to eat and drink at once, both hands full of food as he fumbled around to find the straw with his lips. Once he consumed all that was placed in front of him, he turned his attention back to his presents. Sitting in a pile of them with their wrappings all around, he tossed the presents into the air, letting them fall onto his head as he played.

Like any space explorer in a “waitless” environment, when the playing has subsided and all the treats have been found and eaten, it is time to take a nap. Climbing to the top of the green oozy waterfall, Ndume enjoyed the last of the warm sunlight on his birthday purring softly to himself in this alien — yet somehow familiar and comfortable — terrain.

Research/Care Blog

Cardboard Feeders: Green Enrichment by Adrienne Mrsny

Ndume opens one of his new cardboard feeders

Date Added: 2009-08-30

1. Introduction

Piñatas are a fun way to encourage problem solving and distribute food to the gorillas. Unfortunately, piñatas are not a suitable enrichment because of the above considerations.  When faced with the challenge of finding an alternative to piñatas, I looked to cardboard. Cardboard offers the flexibility to be made into different shapes, the durability to stand up to the roughness of a gorilla’s curiosity and the benefit of reusing a forest resource.

Shown below are two of my cardboard feeder designs, the star and fish. They are an easy and fast alternative to piñatas. They are easy to refill with food and simple to repair.  They can be made with holes so when shaken food can fall out or completely sealed closed so the gorillas have to pry the sides open to get to the food.  With colorful designs painted on them they are stimulating for the animal to look at and play with. Their applications are incredibly diverse, and they can be used for almost any terrestrial species as a simple feeder that encourages problem solving.

2. The Project

The Star and Fish feeders are typically used on holidays or special events a few times a year. They can be filled with the morning’s browse (vegetables, lettuce, fruit, etc.) or popcorn for a special treat.  I typically make 15-30 of them for a special event for our two gorillas.

By contacting a local grocery store we were able to obtain various types of boxes that were intended for their recycling. Water bottle flats and shipping boxes also work well. For larger projects, produce vendors can be contacted about donating watermelon or apple boxes. These large shipping and display boxes are 3 feet high and 4 feet long, made of triple thickness cardboard and are great for larger enrichment ideas.

The following template designs are based upon fruit/vegetable boxes.  Each item takes about 20 minutes from tracing the outline onto the box, to putting the final touches of paint on it. Painting decorations are made with nontoxic tempura children’s paint for aesthetic/stimulating value (for both human and gorilla), or left plain to give it a more natural look.   String can be attached for hanging purposes around the enclosure, from mesh or trees. Or they can be laid around the enclosure hidden amongst permanent fixtures and other enclosure items. If there is concern with the animal ingesting the string keep pieces short or don’t hang them. Additionally, Velcro sewn on ribbon is a great alternative to string and is reusable.

Figure 1: Top view of unfolded cutouts for FISH and STAR

*The fish is a complicated design, and too long to fit in this article, photos and directions will be available on our website www.koko.org under our CAREGIVER CORNER section. If you have any questions please email me at [email protected]


3. How to Make a Cardboard STAR

Figure 2: Steps 1-3 of Creating STAR Cutouts

STEP 1: With 1 complete fruit box (top and bottom) you can make 2 stars

STEP 2: Pry the box open at the seams, so that it is a long side that can lay flat. The seams are usually lightly glued together and can be easily pulled apart.

STEP 3: Separate the individual sides by cutting at the seams


Figure 3: Step 4 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 4: Trace the above template out on two of the larger sides of the opened box. I recommend doing this on the side you don’t want visiblers


Figure 4: Step 4 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 5: Cut out the design and fold the sides inward. Using a ruler helps you get a straight and tight fold. The sides that are folded over are 1.75” wide.


Figure 5: Steps 6-7 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 6: Line up the two sides of the star, with the folded flaps on top of each other in an alternating pattern.  Using a sharp object punch a hole through both flaps, towards the center of the flap

STEP 7: Using twine, knot it then push it through the hole from inside to outside. Tie it tightly on the outside of the box. Cut any excess string, or leave long to hang the star by.


Figure 6: Finishing Steps 8-10 of Creating Star Cutouts

STEP 8: Paint the star and let it dry.

STEP 9: Stuff paper in the bottom corners of the star if you are planning to hang it, so food doesn’t fall out.  Then fill with vegetables, fruit or a special treat.

STEP 10: Place the stars in the enclosure and watch your gorillas have fun investigating their new enrichment.

4. How to Make a Cardboard FISH

Figure 7: Steps 1-3 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 1: With 1 complete fruit box (top and bottom) you can make 2 stars.

STEP 2: Pry the box open at the seams, so that it is a long side that can lay flat. The seams are usually lightly glued together and can be easily pulled apart.

STEP 3: Separate the individual sides by cutting at the seams.


Figure 8: Steps 4-5 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 4: Trace the above template out on two of the larger sides of the opened box. I recommend doing this on the side you don’t want visible.

STEP 5: Cut out the design and fold the sides inward. Using a ruler helps you get a straight and tight fold. The sides that are folded over are 1.75” wide.


Figure 9: Steps 6-7 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 6: Line up the two ends of the fish tail, with one folded flaps on top of the other. Using a sharp object punch a hole through both flaps at the top and bottom of the fin.

STEP 7: Using twine, knot it then push it through the hole from inside to outside. Tie it tightly on the outside of the box. Cut any excess string.


Figure 10: Steps 8-9 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 8: Punch a hole through the two top flaps and attach them. String can be left long here if you want to hang the fish.

STEP 9: Fold over the two top flaps so they lay flush with the sides of the fish.


Figure 11: Step 10 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 10: Fold over and secure the two top front flaps with twine. Fold them so they alternate with the top flap..


Figure 12: Steps 11-13 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 11: Fold the front triangular flap under the flap of the same side with the flap from the opposite side on the very top. Punch a hole through the two large flaps and secure them in place with twine.

STEP 12: : Fold over the bottom two flaps so they alternate with the bottom front flaps and secure with twine.

STEP 13: Fold in the two back flaps so they are flush with the fish.


Figure 13: Steps 14-15 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 14: Paint the fish and let it dry.

STEP 15: Fill the fish with vegetables, fruit or a special treat by pulling open the top flaps near the back fin.


Figure 14: Final Step 16 of Creating FISH Cutouts

STEP 16: Place the fish in the enclosure and watch your gorillas have fun investigating their new enrichment.

5. Results

The design was improved to it is present looks, based upon the observations of the gorillas interaction with them.  When each animal was introduced to the item, a caregiver filled out a record sheet tracking the gorillas’ interaction. The caregivers numerically ranked how successful it was according to: individual/group response, duration of interest, and safety concerns. Based upon this, adjustments were made to optimize the effectiveness of the design.

Both gorillas knew when the enrichment was being put in the yard and become visibly excited, gesturing and vocalized to be let out into the yard. Success was gauged by interest in the items along with determination and time taken to access the contents. The feeders proved successful since the gorillas came back to it throughout the day to see if they overlooked any food. Our silverback (Ndume, shown above) was seen carrying one of the cardboard fish around throughout the day.

Designs could be easily made larger or smaller to accommodate other animals and primates. It is a fun and easy craft for staff or volunteers that can be made as simple or complex to fit the species’ needs.

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