Bodenham, R. 2021. Introducing the swing ball! RATEL (Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers) 48(1), 4-7.
A short observational study was carried out on Chester Zoo’s male jaguar and its pack of 14 bush dogs to see if any behavioural changes were found with each species when they were engaging with a ‘swing ball’ enrichment device. The swing ball mimics that of your garden swing ball toy at home where the rope can freely spin around the post but instead of using a tennis ball, here we use a cow leg. The post was purposefully positioned at the bottom of a mound where there is varying topography and obstacles around the base, therefore encouraging different muscle use and cognitive thinking as the animals move around the post whilst tugging at the food or enrichment item. The findings of both jaguar and bush dog study clearly demonstrate the positive effects of using an enrichment device such as the swing ball. Overall, both species were generally more active, more alert and more visible compared to when the device was not available. The article also describes how to make your own ‘swing ball’.