Our animals have been enjoying ice-pop treats in the heat!

July 14, 2022

A Bokiboky at Marwell Zoo licks an ice cube

Many of our animals have natural adaptations suited to hot climates. However, some species may need a little extra help keeping cool at the zoo, so our keepers recently offered them ‘ice-pop treats’!

Our Asian small-clawed otters, bokiboky, and binturongs dug into the frozen ice pops. Natural enrichment is really important to keep our animals engaged and stimulated. These frozen ice pops really encouraged some natural behaviours in each species as captured in our video below!

In the wild, Asian small-clawed otters and bokiboky spend time searching for their food, so keepers added food inside the ice to encourage foraging behaviours. Bokiboky forage for invertebrates on the ground, digging for them in sandy soil and rotting wood.

Our Asian small-clawed otters had to manipulate the icy treats in order to retrieve the food inside by using their sharp teeth to crunch the ice. Otters are playful and sociable animals and eat crustaceans in the wild. Their ice pops were made with frozen water, whitebait and crayfish.

Asian small-clawed otters are considered to be tactile creatures, spending time playing with objects they find using their agile, hand-like front paws. This species of otter is playful and sociable, and they are often found in groups of 12 or 13. These otters have broad, powerful molars for crushing the shells of crabs and shellfish, so crunching the ice was no problem!

These clips show how a novel and unexpected item like a frozen treat can benefit animal welfare by promoting positive emotions and expression in species, such as curiosity, interest and contentment!