Behavioral enrichment came into vogue in zoos in the last 10 years or so, and is now a “buzzword” throughout the industry. Of course, good zookeepers and pet owners have long known that captive animal health (and, as concerns bored, screaming parrots, captor sanity!) is aided by the provision of opportunities to explore, forage and otherwise behave in a somewhat normal fashion.
An Early Zoo Experiment
I recall being involved with an early attempt at spicing up the lives of galagos (small primates) at the Bronx Zoo, which resulted in the invention (not by myself, my mechanical skills are horrendous!) of an air-powered cricket dispenser. Cricket were propelled into different parts of the exhibit at varying intervals, keeping the waiting galagos very alert and ready to leap on a meal at all times. Zoo visitors were no longer confronted with motionless balls of fur, and the galagos became noticeably more active and vigorous.
Stimulating Interest in Foraging
Of course, parrots benefit greatly from interacting with people and other birds, but foraging behavior also rates very high as an enrichment activity. Locating and gathering meals takes up a great deal of all birds’ lives, and is infinitely more absorbing than picking food from a dish.
Fetch It Pets Polly Wanna Piñatas are supplied either empty (to be stuffed with food at home) or filled with a variety of nutritious parrot treats. Parrots of all types enjoy shredding them (and would even if the piñatas were empty!) and working at getting to the dried fruits secreted within. The stimulation your bird experiences will be evident by the vigor it puts into dismantling this unique product.
The piñatas are especially useful for parrots kept in smaller cages, as hiding treats in such situations is usually more challenging for the parrot owner than is finding the treats for the parrot!
A New Zealand Journal of Ecology article discussing the complexities of foraging behavior in parakeets is posted at: