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With visitors banned, aliens must entertain Monarto Safari Park's chimpanzees
It is not clear who is going more stir-crazy at the temporarily closed zoo.
It is not clear who is going more stir-crazy at Monarto Safari Park during its coronavirus-forced closure: the chimpanzees or the keepers.
Either way, the humans have been going above and beyond to keep the animals entertained.
Recently they dressed up as "yip yips" from children's TV show Sesame Street, prancing about in a pantomime for four bemused chimps who watched from behind the glass.
Hannah, Enzi, Zuri and Hope were not quite sure what to make of the alien intruders, though one began slapping the glass in apparent approval.
At other times, keepers have played musical instruments, blowed bubbles, performed with puppets and engaged in water play in an effort to keep the chimps stimulated.
"Behavioural enrichment for all the animals at the zoo is so important to keep them busy throughout the day, especially the chimps," one keeper said in a video broadcast on Facebook.
"We do a lot of things to keep these guys busy and it doesn't always have to be about the food.
"We try and use all their senses – their taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing, everything."
But yes, food was their favourite.
"Chimpanzees are naturally omnivorous, so in the wild they eat things like leaves, flowers, fruit, bark off trees, they are excellent hunters so they do eat meat, and they'll forage for termites and honey in beehives," the keeper said.
"When we try to give them enrichment, we've got to give them things that aren't going to harm them.
"This is on top of their normal diet that they get through the day."
Zoos SA has been publishing regular videos of its animals since closing due to the coronavirus on March 25, both on Facebook and its website.
More information: www.zoossa.com.au/zoo-to-you.
Funding keeps safari park afloat during crisis
In the absence of income from the 150,000 visitors who come to Monarto each year, federal government funding is helping the safari park keep its animals fed and cared for.
Federal MP Tony Pasin said $94.6 million had been made available to zoos around Australia.
"This will be a lifeline for zoos like Monarto that have had many of their revenue streams dry up during this crisis," he said.
"Monarto Safari Park is such an important part of the community and we want to make sure it can continue to be a major economic contributor into the future.
"Keeping the park in the best shape possible as we deal with this pandemic will be vital to helping the region get back on their feet, sustaining local jobs."
Zoos SA chief executive officer Elaine Bensted said the money came as a huge relief, and would be spent on food, care and veterinary services.