Tough Kong toy becomes a devil’s plaything
A toy developed for dogs has become the latest plaything for devils, providing an important ‘enrichment’ tool for animals held in the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program captive management centre in Hobart.
Anything which provides enrichment to animals in captivity – stimulating mental activity and natural foraging behaviour – is a useful management tool for captive breeding. The tough food-filled toy, known as the ‘Kong Wobbler’, was welcomed by the Program’s devil keepers and has proved to be a successful enrichment tool for the devils.
The toy which was donated by USA Kong Dog Toy Company, can be filled with food treats and re-used. It was introduced into several of the devil enclosures and tested for short periods. In all cases the devils were observed interacting and playing with the Kong. It will be used periodically in the future so as to maximise its value as an enrichment tool, ensuring that the interest by individual devils is maintained.
The Kong was donated by Mark Hines, the Director of Behaviour and Training for the Kong Dog Toy company. Mark was so impressed with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program after hearing a talk given by Jade Fountain, who was a past keeper with the Program, at an animal behaviour conference in the USA, that he offered the toy to the Program to road test on the devils.
The Kong Wobbler has proved to be not only popular with the devils but amazingly durable, so far withstanding the devil’s powerful jaws. Thanks from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program to Kong, particularly Mark Hines, and to Jade Fountain for spreading the word about the Tasmanian devil and the Program’s efforts to a new audience in the USA.
Photo: Jonas Haag Photography