Conservation and life in Borneo

A Little Nest Egg

There are many different ways we can provide enrichment for the bears, often this involves food as they have a very strong drive to forage for something tasty. However, this is often done by simulating a “treat lurking inside a log” scenario and I wanted to give them something different.

I decided that it would be interesting to provide the bears with some nests to raid for eggs. The only difference to a real next would be that [a] it had to be stimulating (provide more than 1 second of activity) [b] had to resemble a natural next as much as possible and [c] be easy to deploy. I came up with the idea of a “nest ball”: a ball of vegetation with an egg in it which could be thrown on to the top of a bears pen if needed to provide a “nest” to climb to which had an egg to harvest (after a little effort from the bear). The details on how this was done are given below.

In order to make a nest ball, the following ingredients were obtained:
vines (adventitious roots, actually)
weeds (for density and fragrance)
broad leaves (to contain honey around egg and help ball keep shape)

Firstly, the eggs were boiled in order to help them make their rapid journey to the pen-tops intact. The boiled eggs were then covered in honey, just as an additional treat for the bears and then wrapped in a large leaf to keep everything together.

The next step was to cushion the egg in a ball of weeds taken from outside untill it attained a size which would make it a little more challenging for the bear to obtain.

The ball of vegetation was then tied up tightly using a length of “jungle rope” and the finished product put in the fridge for the next day.

The nest balls were served the following morning, both as nests on top of the pens.
In the case of my friend Linggam -who is probably the best climber of all the male bears- I compounded the problem by suspending the nest within a plastic tube at a very awkward height from the centre of his ceiling and stuffed tightly each end with vegetation and cardboard. By use of his power, agility and intelligence he was able to get his prize after 32 minutes of effort.


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