There will be a special Easter egg hunt at Perth Zoo this weekend with keepers hiding treats in papier mache eggs to entice the animals to forage for their food.
The zoo’s meerkats, sun bears and hyenas took part in a trial run on Thursday.
The eggs were made by the zoo’s docent volunteers.
Zookeeper Marty Boland said each egg was designed with ingredients which were particularly mouth watering to the recipient.
“The hyenas’ eggs are made with a form of scent — they use their olfactory senses quite a lot — so they had meerkat bedding in theirs, which is one of their favourites,” he said.
“The meerkats had crickets.
“And while it’s a treat, it’s also worked into their current diets, so all measured out amounts to keep their weight at a healthy constant.”
Mr Boland said the activity was also a form of learning for the animals.
“It’s basically honing into those natural skills that their wild counterparts would have,” he said.
“So the meerkats, they would be foraging all throughout the day finding food.
“And the crickets will also jump around and actually hide in the pea gravel, which means they’re looking for food a lot longer as well, instead of just placing a pile of food in the exhibit.”
The egg hunt is part of Perth Zoo’s behavioural enrichment program, which includes a number of activities designed to challenge the animals and stimulate their natural hunting abilities.
“Curiosity is important for any creature and as part of our enrichment program we’re constantly ensuring every day is different,” Mr Boland said.
“The sun bears, who were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, will use their strong claws to rip and tear them open, then use their extraordinary long tongues to investigate what’s inside.”
Mr Boland said it was also great for visitors.
“It’s entertaining for them and it also shows these skills that these animals actually have, which a lot of people might not know about,” he said.
Perth Zoo will be holding a number of activities over the Easter long weekend.