Edinburgh Zoo reveals ‘wishlist’ for its animals

Tian Tian knows what she'd like as a gift. Picture: AP

Tian Tian knows what she'd like as a gift. Picture: AP

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IT’S the latest in state-of-the-art creature comforts.

Edinburgh Zoo has revealed an Amazon wishlist aimed at ensuring generous visitors know exactly what gifts to buy the exotic animals in their care.

Ranging from £130 scent balls to bags of pine cones and coils of sturdy rope, the comprehensive catalogue offers something for everyone – whether the receiver is a cheeky chimp, a preening parrot or a ferocious big cat.

And today the zoo revealed more than 50 gifts had been donated to animals since July 2014, with the most pampered including pandas, chimps, rhino, penguins and sun bears.

But despite the varied Amazon checklist, a zoo spokeswoman said the most common presents were still everyday items that people might otherwise have thrown out, such as cardboard tubes, plastic bottles and old clothes or linen.

And she said the most popular time of year for donated items was Christmas – proving Santa doesn’t just deliver his parcels for humans alone.

She said: “We tend to let people know if we are getting a lot of one particular thing as we don’t want to become inundated with stuff we can’t store.We also get a lot of very kind donations from the Amazon list which people buy for us.

“We do get peaks of interest and activity from our Amazon list at particular times, like Christmas or after it’s been highlighted on social media.People can request that their donated item be for the use of a particular species. However, it is very important that we give enrichment to all our animals as it helps to ensure high standards of welfare and gives the animals the opportunity to carry out natural behaviours.

“Some of the items listed on the wishlist are for specific animals as it is best suited for that species’ behaviour.”

Last week, a video released by the zoo showed pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang playing with colourful new bobbin toys bought by a kindly volunteer.

The zoo’s meerkats were also given a new treat in the form of a plastic ball pit.

Alison Maclean, the zoo’s team leader for Giant Pandas and Carnivores, said the “enrichment” toys were vital in keeping animals fit, healthy and happy.

She said: “As well as being great fun for visitors to watch, enrichment plays an important role in the lives of the animals at Edinburgh Zoo, providing extra stimulation that helps them to demonstrate natural, species-typical behaviour and to enhance their physical and physiological wellbeing.

“Hidden within the meerkat’s ball pits are grubs that they forage for and problem solve to find, whilst the coloured drums contain a ball that makes a curious sound when the pandas roll them around.

“We were particularly delighted to see Tian Tian, the female giant panda, pulling her bobbin into her off-show den, something she only does with things she really likes.

“The bobbins have been created in American for bears to play with and we had them imported especially for our giant pandas.”

The zoo has a list of gifts that are suitable for donation on its website, including everyday items such as clothes, newspapers and bedsheets – alongside such unusual suggestions as fire hoses and bungee cords.

• alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com