Happier elephants make us happier too
Photos: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Here’s your good news for the day: the Singapore Zoo is no longer ordering their elephants to perform in the animal show!
Since Elephant Appreciation Day on 22 September, Singapore Zoo rolled out a revamped format for the elephant performance show that goes on twice a day for the public. Instead of commanding the elephants to perform stunts like before, the zoo keepers now encourage the elephants to carry out their natural behaviour using positive reinforcement.
In other words, the elephants can choose to perform certain actions, to get the reward of tasty treats!
If you visit the zoo for the show today, you could see the elephants freely picking among the various treats laid out, and feasting on them leisurely before you. Or, you could even get up close with the adorable creatures, and use their favouite fruits to entice them to lie down in the water!
The zoo’s five female elephants can now participate in the presentation segments voluntarily. It’s a great way for the audience to get to know the personalities of the elephants – what they like or choose to do. The keepers take on the duty of interpreting their behaviours and actions to the audience, from the other side of the barrier.
Yes, the elephants get even more space to themselves, with safety barriers now installed between them and the keepers! It’s part of the zoo’s new protected contact system. Even during cleaning and bonding times, the keepers minimise their direct contact with the elephants.
We’re completely on board with Singapore Zoo’s increasing steps towards giving their elephants more free rein. Since they discontinued the elephant rides and elephant painting sessions in 2015, the zoo has been moving in this direction of improving the welfare of their animals.
The revision to the elephant show certainly deserves our support! And, is it just us, or do the elephants in the video below look much happier already?