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A full bill of health for Melbourne Zoo's star breeder Floppy
As Melbourne Zoo’s sole male Brown-nosed Coati, Floppy knows what it’s like to be outnumbered by the females of his species.
However, it’s this solo male status that’s seen him become the most successful Coati breeder in the Australasian region.
Sire to 24 offspring who now live across the country, Floppy, who was named for his one floppy ear, has single-handedly ensured the breeding success of the species in Australia.
Melbourne Zoo Carnivores keeper Georgie Greig said Floppy would be enjoying some extra special treats in the lead-up to his ninth birthday this Sunday (28 April).
“We’re working on Floppy’s targeting behaviours, where he is trained to hold his nose to a tennis ball on the end of a stick,” Ms Greig said.
“This is a great way for us to move him around the enclosure without having to handle him. We also watch his gait while he’s walking and climbing, and perform some tactile behaviours to assess his health and body condition.”
Ms Greig said the team used positive reinforcement to train Floppy, and he was given some extra special sweet treats of strawberries and blueberries for his special day.
Floppy was born in Germany in 2010 and arrived at Melbourne Zoo a year later to become part of the Coati breeding program. Floppy bred with four of the Melbourne Zoo females, resulting in the 24 offspring. Two female offspring, Japura and Bahia, still reside at Melbourne Zoo.
Ms Greig said Floppy is a confident animal, bold and very food-motivated.
“Floppy is a very inquisitive guy and enjoys his enrichment and toys, such as cardboard boxes, bedding from the Coati females, perfume, and mulch pits.”
He also recently underwent a medical and dental examination, and was found to be in tiptop health for a boy his age.
“For that procedure, we were able to hand inject him, thanks to the training we undertake with him. This means he actively participates in his own health care, which reduces any potential stress that animals can sometimes feel. It’s an awesome outcome for Floppy,” Ms Greig said.
Coatis belong to the raccoon family and are found across South America, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Females live in groups or “bands” of up to 30 individuals, while males are solitary, with the exception of breeding season when females will allow males into the band for breeding.
You can visit Floppy, and the female coatis on the Carnivores Trail at Melbourne Zoo every day of the year.