In order to survive, animals adapt to their environment – from body shape to mental abilities. But what shapes their mental capacities?
We look for answers to this question by studying a wide range of animal species that live in different habitats and have diverse lifestyles. In the wild, such studies can be very challenging. Instead, we study animals housed in zoos in semi-natural conditions. This enables us to obtain information about their natural abilities up close.
This project is a collaboration with the Division of Behavioral Ecology at the University of Bern (read more). We are studying the spatial learning abilities of Madagascar giant day geckos that roam freely within the Masoala Rainforest biome at Zoo Zurich.
For the study, we stock feeder boxes within the environment of the animals with their favorite food. This way we can test how the geckos learn to find their snacks. This in turn helps us to better understand how geckos navigate their complex three-dimensional environment under natural conditions.
Well camouflaged: a Madagascar giant day gecko in the Masoala Rainforest. Photo: UZH, Dario Jelmini