As the Curator of Birds at OBS, I have the privilege of caring for our birds on a daily basis. This means that I get to know our birds and their personalities and quirks. It also means I clean up a lot of poop! But I also get to be creative in coming up with enrichment! The National Zoo defines enrichment as: "...the process of providing stimulating environments for Zoo animals in order for them to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, to allow them to exercise control or choice over their environment, and to enhance their well-being." In simpler terms, enrichment provides an animal with the opportunity to problem-solve similarly to how they would in the wild.
Enrichment looks different for different animals and for different birds. Here I want to showcase enrichment that I have provided for our vultures. Vultures are intelligent and I have to think outside the box to come up with new things for them to shred, manipulate, pick up, tug on, and mess with. I also network with zookeepers and other animal caretakers to share ideas. For example, the idea for the video of Elliott with the ball pit balls came from a zookeeper from the North Carolina Zoo (thanks, Sarah!). It is both fun and rewarding to see the boys, Ichabod and Elliott, figuring out each new enrichment idea.