Zoo animals give giant ice lolly the big freeze

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The Independent Online

A giant ice lolly did the rounds at a zoo today to try to keep the rhinos, coatis and camels cool in the summer heat.

Keepers at Marwell Wildlife assembled a giant blackcurrant ice cube in a bin over the last two weeks for the animals to lick and investigate.

But male Hannu, females Sula and Kiri, all Southern White Rhinos, Bactrian Camels Whacker and Marmaduke, and the group of Ring-Tailed Coatis showed little interest in eating the frozen treat after an initial sniff.

Keeper Mark Humble said it was all part of their behavioural enrichment programme.

"They have their own methods of keeping cool but this is something different," he said.

"It's all about giving them a choice, every free animal has choices."

The charity stimulates the animals by providing activities around the year to encourage mental wellbeing.

Marwell Wildlife also funds research projects abroad and is concerned with protecting endangered species by looking at the causes of extinction such as habitat loss and the over-exploitation of biological resources.

He added: "We have over 2,000 animals, not including the bugs, and 250 species.

"Our aim is conservation both here and abroad and educating the public about the animals we have here at the park and about the work we do abroad.

"In Kenya and Zimbabwe we fund research stations and we also work to put animals back in to the wild."