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                         Hilda Tresz                   Global Volunteer Work

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Fuzhou Zoo   

Goals were to provide information regarding exhibit improvements, improve zoo wide animal training and educational workshops about husbandry and enrichment.


Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes ?) Subspecies unknown.

 Suggestions: Subspecies needs to be determined by DNA testing.

BeiBei F, 7 and Bowbow M, 6


Chimpanzee exhibits

The chimpanzee exhibit was satisfactory in size, but needed more climbing and sleeping structures as well as toys.


The night houses were large enough, made of concrete and metal; lacked furniture and substrate and were very dark. Straw, paper and browse were immediately added for nest building and to take animals off of the unyielding surface.

Suggestion: To further improve quality, some flexible furniture needs to be installed in each night quarters. Animals need both flexible and permanent structures in order to exhibit proper motor skills. All off exhibit areas should utilize three dimensions by adding large tree trunks, ropes, fire hoses, hammocks, wooden shelves, etc., to increase space and to the animals’ opportunities for exercise, exploration and manipulation.

All cages are to be filled with substrate, browse, logs and branches. Since paper is readily available in China, all animals should receive newspapers, phone books, paper bags, etc,. in the night houses for nest building. It would be preferable if in the new night houses, there would be double sliding doors( one being solid and the other one built from bars and mesh). The night houses and exhibit should connect with a "Round Robin" system, when animals can be directed in circular ways and not just in linear. This system could be used for all species and would help with introductions or shift animals inside or outside easier and faster in one animal doesn't want to move.

 The new night houses are being built as we speak. They are very nice, spacious and light.


Follow up

Chimpanzee and Orangutan night house reconstruction will be finished in a month or two.


Heated floor

The general assumption was the substrate cannot be provided on heated floor due to being flammable.  . 


All animals can have substrate on heated floor. Another option would be turning off the heat in one night house and provide deep bedding for nest building while leaving the heat on in the other and give the animals a choice.

Follow up

Consultant also confirmed with Dr. Steve Ross, SSP coordinator regarding substrate use on heated floor.



Exhibit design

Follow up

The accreditation standards and related policies of Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) Care Manual of Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the South African National Standards were provided and is being translated to Chinese in collaboration of the Jane Goodall Institute and Animalsasia.


General propositions:


Consultant was scheduled to walk around in each area and give training advice regarding shifting, target and scale training.

Follow up

General scale information and later elephant scale information was provided via email.


Night houses, off exhibit areas and correct substrate use

Since most animals lived in large, luxurious, green exhibits and in proper social groups, our focus was mostly on improving the “off exhibit” areas where animals were isolated due to medical or husbandry reasons or locked inside for longer periods of time for any temporary housing reasons. Special attention needs to be paid to all the night houses as well, where animals spend an average 14-17 hours/day in concrete/bar cages.


Continuing to keep animals off of hard or cold, wet or dry, unyielding surfaces (brick, concrete, etc.) would be desirable. The use of appropriate substrate (inside- paper products, hay or straw, etc.; outside- nonflammable materials such as grass, sand, soil, mulch, fresh browse, etc.) will make a significant difference not only in the animals’ health but also in improvement of the exhibit aesthetics.  


Some exhibits had metal furniture.


Metal furniture should be changed to wooden ones. Metal is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.



Orangutan training

Target training program started by the consultant but had no time to follow up because needed to leave to Changsha Zoo. Although animal was turning around well, it would not present his hind quarters for medical exams.

Follow up

Shaping plan was provided via email



The zoo has large amount of edible vegetation available on grounds that could provide fresh, leafy branches (browse).


Browse should be provided especially inside the night houses at least every 2-3 days, but if possible, every day. As mentioned during the presentation, the zoo can start planting edible trees, bushes and even crops inside and outside of exhibits, along visitor pathways and resting areas that will provide future browsing materials for growing collection demands. Whether cut by staff or available by natural damage, fallen vegetation can be used rather than wasted.


Extending foraging time

All animals need to be fed in a way that their foraging time is extended and proper species-specific behaviors are encouraged. If no one can be appointed for this position, staff can be scheduled to cut browse and chop diet on a rotation basis.

Improving enrichment programs

Although animals were kept in large exhibits, they were often inactive. Simple, solutions of enrichment ideas as well as the Phoenix Zoo’s monthly enrichment calendars were provided.



Follow up

The work has been continuing even after I have left. Food enrichment such as bamboo puzzle feeders, PVC feeders, newspaper and cardboard feeders were given to primates.

Mr. Liao, Deputy Husbandry Curator is working on sending some keepers to visit and communicate with other zoos to widen their knowledge. So far, the enrichment was only welcomed by some technician people. The zoo will give small amount of compensation to staff to encourage providing enrichment.


Elephant program

The zoo currently has two elephants that are kept separated due to serious food aggression. There is no enrichment in their enclosure and night houses. There were previous attempts for introductions but male was too aggressive. A similar management program that Phoenix Zoo implemented can be tried to decrease aggression and to teach animals to forage longer. Contact information of Phoenix Zoo’s Elephant Manager (Heather wright) was given and communication has been started.

Follow up:

Fuzhou Zoo Management has provided enclosure information already and the Phoenix Zoo’s Elephant Manager is communicating with Management regarding the a new enrichment program and a possible future introduction.





The following Power Point presentations were given to all staff: 

         Lack of substrate use in zoos addresses the easy fix of empty cages and shows how much benefit there is in the animals’ lives when provided with substrate; i.e., when they do not have to sit inside of empty concrete cages. This is probably the most important animal welfare presentation to give out of the five.

         Contra freeloading at the Phoenix Zoo presentation talks about making animals work for their food in similar ways as they would in the wild instead of eating diet in short period of time from metal dishes or rubber tubs.

         The beneficial browse gives guidelines regarding how to develop a zoo-wide browse program with numerous browse gardens in the middle of the Sonoran Desert with no money; it also addresses the major changes that fresh, leafy greens can make in the animals’ lives.

         Let them be elephants addresses the changes we made in our elephants’ lives, how we helped their behaviors by teaching them how to forage right and behave like normal females; it also talks about basic husbandry, enrichment ideas and health care.


Presentations are available at  htresz@thephxzoo.com

I would like to thank the Fuzhou Zoos’ director and staffs as well as the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG) for their incredible hospitality, making me feel so welcomed.

I would also like to thank Animals Asia Foundation for funding and organizing this trip and to establish such a wonderful, working relationship between the Jane Goodall Institute, the Phoenix Zoo and Fuzhou Zoo.


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