Enrichment for sea lions at ZooJam 2016 from Fiona French on Vimeo.

Sea Lion Brainstorm

  1. Give live fish (not appropriate)
  2. Provide large salmon – big fish takes longer
  3. Underwater fish cannon
  4. Clear plastic tube with bubbles – force water through and smelly bubbles come out holes
  5. Remote controlled subs
  6. Fishing line for public to dangle
  7. Underwater pvc tube
  8. Follow lights to obtain reward
  9. Magnet wall (like penguins)
  10. Current – water jets for whiskers – added noise effects
  11. Gelatine ball inside PVC tube puzzle
  12. Angry bird sardines target shooting
  13. Slippery iceberg with food on top – requires cooperation to tip it
  14. Chaining targets with lights sequences
  15. Forage in rocks – find feeders through smell (puzzle) – micro v. macro foraging?
  16. Laser fish move point and release – follow trajectory
  17. Kongs with tilt detectors as triggers – dispenser elsewhere
  18. Rings / hoops to jump (height control) – cued by audience – laser shimmer effect
  19. Interactive balls with cameras – team behaviour
  20. Collect balls for reward
  21. Complete make-over of enclosure including figure of eight pool with currents
Discussion point: Opportunities not events

Link swimming with foraging, cognitive link between action and result = emotional feedback
Launch fish into current to give “life”, trigger food when sea lions have done enough work.
And give them enough food to satisfy so they can relax.  
How to provide more control over food supply, so not keeper focused
Training issue – always hungry = chronic frustration

Discussion point: How to manage public expectations

Pin to welfare
“countdown” for sea lions, come back later when they’ve swum enough to trigger the sardine dispenser – real-time feedback for visitors – animals have swum X km today.  If not swimming also provides health data.  

Sea Lion Brief

SEA LIONS (Matt O’Leary – keeper at ZSL)
Wild Californian sea lions are dynamic hunters and will use fast paced movement using their flippers to propel them through water at high speed to catch prey. In captivity, Californian sea lions are historically used for public demonstrations and are highly trainable. Although positive reinforcement training can be enriching to the animal, the majority of food comes from a keepers/trainer hand during these training sessions which restricts the amount of natural foraging behaviours in captivity. Due to this, sea lions can become overly focused on their keepers and can react in anticipation of food when they see or hear a keeper. Wild sea lions can spend multiple hours foraging for food at sea whereas in captivity during training sessions time spend feeding is considerably less. Even when not being trained, feeding is  a short time event.
To promote natural foraging behaviour
To increase time spend foraging
To reduce keeper focus for food