Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peanut - The Tennessee Aquarium's Football Pickin' Possum

"Peanut," one of the Tennessee Aquarium's Virginia opossums, is a visitor favorite at Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari. In the picture above, Thaddeus Taylor coaxes Peanut out of a hollow tree by shaking a container of treats. It's like ringing a dinner bell for this food-motivated marsupial. "He's hungry ALL the time," said Taylor.
 Taylor and senior educator Susie Grant have been "coaching up" this new animal star during regular animal training sessions. "We try to show our visitors natural behaviors in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari," said Grant. "Possums have several great adaptations that help them survive in the wild, including a highly developed sense of smell." Since Peanut can follow his nose to find food, Aquarium staff give him enrichment activities where he can search for a meal. In this case, fishy treats are placed under light boxes for peanut to find. Equal amounts of treats were placed under the boxes to see if Peanut would follow his nose to pick the winners of upcoming football games.
Look for Peanut, the football pickin' possum, beginning Friday September 16th on WDEF-TV's Prime News at 7:00 pm. Peanut's picks will be shown with a recap on the following Monday.

We don't know if Peanut has a nose for football, but he knows how to find food. Although a variety of college and NFL teams were used for this demonstration, the Cavaliers were disqualified. After all, Peanut is a Virginia opossum.