Animals at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon have been taking time to smell the roses. And then eat them.
Gorillas, gibbons, squirrel monkeys and lemurs were among the species given the end-of-season treats by keepers and gardeners. Some rose petals came from the Zoo’s own botanical gardens, while others came from nearby Cockington Country Park.
Zoo gardeners and mammal keepers worked together on the plan. Catherine Mortimer, Head Gardener at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, explained: “Demand out-strips the supply from our own plants, so asking our friends at Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust to help out was the next logical step.”
The Trust cares for Cockington Country Park, with its beautiful, award-winning Memorial Rose Garden, maintained by the Park’s Lead Gardener Mardie Short and her team of volunteers. The garden’s roses are dead-headed with extra care and kept separate from grass and leaves, in order to provide the Zoo’s animals with this organic, sweet smelling, tasty treat.
Senior Head Keeper of Mammals Rob Rouse said: “A number of primate species were given rose petals. They are a limited resource, a once-a-year seasonal treat and always provoke interest, making them ideal as environmental enrichment. As enrichment, rose petals tick all the boxes for smell, touch and taste.”
Environmental enrichment aims to encourage natural feeding and foraging behaviours, stimulate mental and physical activity and prompt curiosity and choice with unusual objects and situations. It can range from puzzle feeders and wind chimes to unusual scents and cardboard boxes with food hidden inside.
Species like ring-tailed lemurs and lowland gorillas are threatened in the wild, but at least life at Paignton Zoo is a bed of roses…