Cute carnivores cool off with icy treats

30 December 2022

As the weather heats up again, Werribee Open Range Zoo’s cutest carnivores are keeping cool by digging into icy poles and slushies filled with their favourite treats.

The meerkat mob rummage through ice slushies flavoured with insects, while serval sisters Nanki and Morili climb high and low to lap up iron-rich icy poles prepared specially to their taste.

Zookeepers place ice blocks on top of tree stumps to test the ability of the naturally agile servals who can spring up to two metres in the air. Meanwhile, the curious meerkats are encouraged to problem solve to access the tasty insects hidden within ice mounds scattered on top of rocks and inside tunnels.

African River Trail zookeeper Lydia Whiteway said the icy treats not only help the animals to keep cool, but also provide them with nutritionally dense stimulation to keep their minds active.

“Hiding high-value snacks throughout the ice stimulates natural foraging behaviours in our carnivores,” Mrs Whiteway said.

“We saw meerkats digging and splashing in the ice while the servals leapt on to the tree trunks and leisurely licked at the icy poles.

“This kind of enrichment keeps them mentally and physically stimulated, while also keeping them cool as the weather in Melbourne warms up.”

Enrichment activities happen each day for all animals across Zoos Victoria’s four properties, and visitors may be lucky enough to see ice play in action throughout the summer period.

The meerkats are located alongside the meerkat bistro at Werribee Open Range Zoo, while the servals can be seen during the African Cat Encounter at 1.30pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Zoos Victoria visitors are reminded that all tickets must be pre-booked online at Zoos Victoria Members no longer need to book but are required to scan their Membership card for entry.