Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Enrichment

From time to time you may notice some objects that seem out of place in the exhibit. Now that the penguins have been here awhile we are working on giving the penguins some enrichment. You may have noticed enrichment with the giant Pacific octopus in the form of a Mr. Potatohead. Mr. P. is not something that would be found in the wild, but a toy is something that’s stimulating and entertaining to the animal. River otters get boomer balls which are hard plastic balls. Sometimes fish are put inside hollow balls. Occasionally the otters play with Frisbees, and once last February a fresh bucket of snow was brought in from outside. They loved playing in the snow. Every day the macaws get a quick enrichment activity. It could be something as simple as a paper lunch sack with peanuts, leather strips or nuts inside. The macaws also like their showers which are considered enrichment. We just started giving the penguins enrichment recently. Their first enrichment item was a frozen block with smelt in it. Of course smelt is a normal item that they like to eat, but inside a block of ice it was somewhat scary at first. After the block was carefully placed in the water, they started swimming around completely avoiding the ice block until they saw the smelt inside. Once they realized there was food inside, it became a completely different story. Later on that same day I put another one in, and they went right for it. They learned very fast. Macaronis especially liked the ice and smelt. It was fun for everyone to see the unusual positions the macaronis would put themselves in to get at the ice block. It was enriching and stimulating for the penguins and fun for the staff to watch. Enrichment is important because it’s good for the mental health of the animals by keeping their minds stimulated. Active minds helps keep all of them in better overall health.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Just wondering what happened to the "Name the Penguin" contest...it was supposed to end sometime in early July but no results have been posted.