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Details: Schedule 8th November 2021

Facilitators and Participants

Leah Williams, Lewis Single, Fiona French, Jon Coe, Eduardo Fernandez, Chris Martin.
Anna Wilkinson, Christopher Lueg, Luiza Passos, Ilyena Hirsky-Douglas, Snigdha Guntuka, Sabrina Minter, Ann Morrison, Elizabeth Aylott, Cara Glynn, Tiff Leek.

Screenshots from the jam, held in GatherTown and Miro.


  • 09:00 Icebreakers, brief introductions and overview.
    Find your team GatherTown space and say hello!
    Leah and Lewis present SPECIES BRIEFS and teams brainstorm at shared whiteboard
  • 09:15 Brief #1: Varanid Lizard
  • 09:35 Brief #2: Freshwater turtle
  • 09:55 Brief #3: Tortoise
  • 10:15 Brief #4: Crocodilian
  • 10:35 Brief #5: Iguana
  • 10:55 Brief #6: Ambush snake
  • 11:15 TEA AND YOGA BREAK [30 min]
  • 11:45 COLLATE AND SHARE IDEAS, offer feedback, ask questions, move to Miro for detailed design work.
    Please select a species to focus on and a GatherTown location for your team.


  • 13:00 LUNCH BREAK [60 min]
    Feel free to enjoy some virtual sandwiches
  • 14:00 Jon outlines stakeholder requirements for AFTERNOON CHALLENGE
  • 14:15 Eduardo presents EVALUATION techniques
  • 14:30 DESIGN COLLABORATION using Miro [120 min]
    Leah, Lewis, Jon, Ed, Chris and Fiona joining in to provide technical support, feedback and advice.
    Team Snake: Ann, Elizabeth, Sabrina
    Team Tortoise: Tiff, Anna, Luiza
    Team Iguana: Cara and Snigdha
  • 16:00 Use Miro to present ideas - photos, sketches, diagrams etc.
  • 16:30 TEAM PRESENTATIONS (recorded)
  • 17:00 It's a wrap!

Species Briefs

Varanid Lizard

Komodo dragon, Chester Zoo

Monitor lizards are carnivorous reptiles found throughout the old world. These lizards have some of the most active metabolisms within the reptile class, and are amongst nature's best predators. Their specialised vomeronasal organ helps pick up scent trails which allows them to pursue prey over great distances. Monitor lizards are exceptional hunters and consume a wide variety of prey items including; eggs, smaller reptiles, fish, birds, insects and small mammals.

While some studies have shown that species of monitor lizard posses venom glands, they primarily overpower prey with their powerful jaws. Monitor lizards can be proficient at swimming, climbing, and digging, and can be quite fast on land and in the water.

Captive husbandry

Careful consideration is needed to replicate natural environmental conditions; heat, light and humidity. Basking sites are very important for thermoregulation. Monitor lizards utilize some of the hottest basking sites of any reptile, often preferring temperatures above 140F/60C.Arboreal species will require good branching of different shapes, sizes and heights, and more aquatic species will require large complex pools for swimming.

Species can be fed on multiple occasions throughout the day/week, but can often become obese if careful caloric managment is not practiced. Monitor lizards in a zooloigical setting have shown excellent problem solving abilities and seem to enjoy working for their food.

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Stimulate prolonged active behavior.

Freshwater Turtle

Golden coin turtle juvenile, Chester Zoo

Aquatic freshwater turtles are found across wetlands, lakes and rivers, with some being fully aquatic and others semi aquatic. Most prefer shallow waters and slow currents with mud and aquatic vegetation in which to hide, and the majority of species are diurnal.

Most species are omnivorous and can feed on plant material or on sedentary animals such as molluscs, worms and insect larvae and will forage underwater. They spend the majority of their time in the water, but will need to come to the surface to breathe regularly. They will need to spend time at the surface or on land to bask.

Captive husbandry

Freshwater turtles require a large waterbody (usually heated and with life support systems) in addition to the appropriate options for ambient temperatures and basking provisions. They will need an appropriate area to haul out with a substrate such as sand or compost and appropriate ground cover. Enclosure design and complexity are important to manage group dynamics.

They are fed relatively frequently (around 3 times per week) and depending on the species will include items such as chopped fruit, foliage, snails, worms and fish, which is usually scatter fed across the water.

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Create dynamic foraging which encourages exercise.


Juvenile radiated tortoises, Chester Zoo

Land-dwelling hard-shelled reptiles of over 40 species globally; long lived, 80-100 years on average. Found in a variety of habitats from deserts to wet tropical forests. Mostly solitary but come together for breeding.

They are generally herbivorous and they spend most time walking slowly feeding on foliage (including grasses and browse), flowers and fruits which change seasonally. Usually active in the morning and afternoon and can retreat to burrows when too hot.

Captive husbandry

Careful consideration is needed to replicate natural environmental conditions; heat, light and humidity.

Substrates are important and should allow tortoises to dig. Common substrates include, sand, compost and bark sometimes topped with leaf litter.

Fresh drinking water is a necessity and some species enjoy bathing. Diets usually consist of leafy greens and some fruits, and can include fungus, browse and protein matter. Tortoises are fed on a daily basis and food is often presented chopped on the ground or in shallow bowls (except when browse is provided).

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Encourage activity and natural foraging behaviour.


American alligator, Indianapolis Zoo

Large powerful carnivorous reptiles. Can reach lengths up to 7 meters. Long lived, 80-100 years on average. Mostly found in tropical climates, with American and Chinese Alligators as exceptions.

They are capable predators consuming a wide variety of prey items dependent on their size. Large crocodilians continue to consume small prey like mollusks, insects, and crayfish into adulthood. Crocodilians spend much of the daylight basking on the bank, or avoiding the heat altogether. Many species of crocodile, caiman, and alligator are very active throughout the night.

Captive husbandry

Careful consideration is needed to replicate natural environmental conditions; heat, light and humidity. Highly aquatic, crocodilians spend much of their time swimming/floating within their pool. Alligators and crocodiles often leave the water to thermoregulate. Basking in the sun, or cooling off in the shade.

Crocodiles and alligators are fed a variety of whole prey items including; rats, quail, chicken, and fish. Food items are offered twice weekly, with the exception that juveniles receive food 6 days a week.

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Stimulate nocturnal activity.


Grand Cayman Blue iguana, Indianapolis Zoo

Rock iguanas are diurnal lizards from the dry forests of the West Indies. They are herbivorous, consuming leaves, flowers, berries, and fruit. Occasionally they may consume insects, crabs, or dead birds.

They spend the majority of their time basking on sunny rocks or defending a territory. Conspecifics communicate through ‘head bobbing’ which is a signal of dominance.

Captive husbandry

Rock iguanas are highly arboreal as juveniles, but become much more terrestrial as they mature. Perching across the ground, and large rocks provide structures for climbing/basking. Hide boxes are also important to provide refuge from conspecifics or other stressors.

Rock iguanas are often maintained individually, except when kept in pairs for reproduction. They are fed dark leafy greens with supplemental vegetables. Fruit and flowers are offered as enrichment/treats.

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Improve physical and mental stimulus.

Ambush Snake

Emerald tree boa, Chester Zoo

Snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica and all are strictly carnivorous. Some species such as pythons, boas and vipers are known for being more inactive and ‘sit and wait’ ambush predators. Ambush snakes rely on their excellent camouflage and stealth to hunt prey, they often spend long periods motionless waiting for suitable prey to pass by. They can be either ground dwelling or arboreal.

Their specialised vomeronasal organ helps pick up scent trails and many species also have heat-sensing pits. They have a low metabolic rate which allows them to go for long periods between meals. Ambush snakes tend to have powerful and thick bodies to help them to strike quickly or overpower their prey (either through venom or constriction).

Captive husbandry

Careful consideration is needed to replicate natural environmental conditions; heat, light and humidity. Water should always be offered and changed regularly, some snakes will only drink sprayed water.

Species are fed infrequently, often only once a month (dependent on season and prey size). Rodents (from mice to rabbits) or chicks are normal food items. Ambush snakes can be challenging to feed as you need to stimulate their senses, to replicate live prey food is often warmed before feeding and fed using tongs or forceps to illicit a feeding response.

Arboreal species will require good branching of different shapes, sizes and heights, and more terrestrial species will require appropriate substrates with hiding places such as logs and leaf litter.

ENRICHMENT GOAL: Stimulate senses used in ambushing.