Animal Rescue Center Creates New Eating Exercises

The Pingtung Rescue Center in Taiwan has been challenging their animals with various tasks to make sure they are physically and mentally active, and to rehabilitate their natural instincts.

Animal keepers in the center have been placing food in various locations, requiring more effort to find it. For Formosan black bears, food is put in tree holes. The bears have to climb in the trees and use their sense of smell to find their next meal. Macaques have their food wrapped in parcels, which they have to take apart.

One explanation for engaging the animals with more challenges, is that it is better for their mental health. A article on the topic published in Taiwan Panorama states, “Once the [animals] are in captivity, it is like putting a person in a prison cell-they easily become anxious and then all kinds of ‘stereotyped behaviors’ appear, and the animals can even engage in self-mutilation.” The food challenges help stimulate mental activity and help rehabilitate the animal’s natural instincts to work to find their food.

The Pingtung Rescue Center rescues animals that were illegally smuggled, sold, and abandoned, from Taiwan and other nations. Some animals come from private zoos or circuses, and other animals come from families who bought the young endangered animal as a cute baby pet, and later abandoned it when it grew older and more unmanageable.

Wild animals evolved to live and move in much larger spaces than they inhabit when they are in captivity. So they need more strenuous activity in order to have a normal and healthy life. Linda Tseng, an animal keeper there said, “This is a new idea we are trying out to make life more fun for them!”

The difficult tasks have also been extended to tigers. Their meat is placed on a pole two meters above ground, so they have to jump to get it. A fifteen-year-old female tiger learned to jump three meters. Previously, she had experienced weakness in her rear legs.

Orangutans at the center have their food placed in baskets, which are on a wheel. The orangutans have to turn a crank to move the wheel, so they can reach the different types of foods in the baskets. They have to exert physical effort in order to eat, rather than simply having food put next to them on the ground everyday.

The center says the health benefits generated by the animal engagement activities has improved their health, and reduced medical expenses for the center.

The Pingtung Rescue Center also spreads awareness to the public about the illegal animal trade. They currently care for over 800 animals.

56 comments

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 years ago

great

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

thank you

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

good idea

Bon L.
Bon L5 years ago

Thanks for the info.

Nellie K A.
Nellie K Adaba6 years ago

I saw a video on that

Catherine Turley
Catherine Turley6 years ago

it is so strange to read about this in taiwan. the last image i have from this place is a tiger, suspended in mid air, with chains binding each paw.

Melinda M.
Past Member 6 years ago

It is so great that they are working on increasing the animals natural instincts.

Sherylee Harper
Sherylee Harper6 years ago

Animals being treated with humanity. What a concept!

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog6 years ago

This is so lovely :) It's a great idea - I wouldn't have thought that animals needed mental exercise, but they actually share so many human characteristics that it's not surprising - kudos to this animal shelter, it's doing a great job :D

Joy Wong
Joy Wong6 years ago

Thanks for sharing.