Research project: Feed box

A new feed box is a gain for all involved: animals are kept busy with novel situations, researchers gain new insights in the problem-solving behavior of various species, and zoo visitors can observe the animals at their attempts to get at food.


This project is designed to determine how species that are more closely and more distantly related to us solve problems. The zoo offers the optimal setting for this.


Research in zoos is often a behind-the-scenes affair, but not so the “box project”. This project offers zoo visitors the opportunity to observe the animals in their species-specific attempts to deal with a feed box and at the same time to gain insights into the research work being conducted. In order to get at the tasty treat in the box, the animals show how they solve problems.  In the wild, this ability can decide between life and death. Different species employ different tricks with varying degrees of success when confronted with such tasks. This project is also expected to yield better knowledge about flexible behavioral enrichment in zoos.


The "Testbattery-Apparatus" (TBA) developed by Dr. Martin Schmelz features two inspection windows on the front and top side and can be variously configured. Different puzzle plates can be inserted into three frames. The animals must either pull, slide or push the door open to reach the food inside the box.