The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) is a member of the Canidae family in the Carnivora order. These monogamous animals eat small berries, fruits, rodents, rabbits, and insects. Rare in captivity, maned wolves are endangered in their native home ranges of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia.
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa have two adult maned wolves – one male named Lobo and a female named Inka. Lobo and Inka are housed in different yet close enclosures as they are father and daughter; this is done mainly to prevent inbreeding. Inka was hand-reared and as a result is fond of the conservators who care for her.
Since Lobo and Inka are captive animals, the staff aim to stimulate them physically and psychologically by providing environmental and behavioral enrichment. Enrichment is defined as an animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care. This is done through the identification and provision of environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being. Enrichment for the maned wolves is provided for four times and stimulates different senses and behaviours.
An example of enrichment for the animals is spraying perfume onto stumps in their enclosures that activates their sense of smell. This sense is highly important for hunting success in the wild.
The rubbing of elephant dung on the stumps is another form of enrichment as it causes the animals to urinate on the stump to hinder the foreign and strange smell.
The scattering of small food items in PVC pipes and in the foliage in the enclosure helps keep their hunting instinct sharp.
However, the most fun seems to be had with the placing of crickets in a large plastic tub as Lobo and Inka indulge in a night time treat.
By Thabile Manyape, Conservator, NZG