Hunting simulator unique in the world
Since September 2015 the Lion Foundation has a unique hunting simulator at its disposal. It took three years to get the system up and running smoothly and it is the first hunting simulator in the world. The simulator consists of a system of pulleys, which allows an operator to manoeuvre a piece of meat randomly through the big hall. The foundation uses the simulator to stimulate the hunting instincts and techniques of the big cats.
Hunt to release energy
The big difference between feline predators in the wild and those in captivity is that the first have to hunt for food. Hunting releases energy, builds muscle and improves stamina. Big cats that live in captivity and therefore cannot hunt, cannot release their energy and tend to develop stereotypical behaviour.
Thanks to the hunting simulator the Lion Foundation can release the energy of the animals. Hunting also stimulates their instincts. The cats become physically stronger and faster, they build muscle and increase flexibility and agility. The simulator helps increase their quality of life.
In the hunting simulator, the ‘prey’ is a piece of meat on a string, attached to a steel cable. A joystick is used to move the meat at any chosen height through the big hall. The animals have to chase their prey actively, spending their energy. Developing the simulator proved to be quite complicated, because the operator constantly needs to be able to move the meat, adjusting its speed and height and also the duration of the session. Most cats are very clever. As soon as they notice that their prey runs the same round every time they will stop chasing and just wait for it to pass by.
Currently research is being done into the effects of the hunting simulator. We expect the following positive results for the animals:
- Less stereotypical behaviour
- More stamina
- More muscle build
- Better physical health
- Better mental health
- Good preparation for a life in the wild
Watch the hunting simulator in action: