Ap-parrot-ly it’s hot!
Monday 4 August 2008
On a hot summer’s day like today, even ZSL London Zoo’s family of Military Macaw parrots enjoy an ice-cold refreshment.
The three parrots, parents and their one-year-old chick, instantly started to tuck into their frozen treats. These ice lollies are specially made by keepers and contain walnuts, dates, pecans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and orange juice.
After a few moments of investigation the birds started chomping on the nuts inside. Despite being a year old, the chick still finds the size of the walnuts and pecans a challenge. But help was at hand in the form of mum, who quickly broke them up and fed them to her baby.
The ice blocks are not given to the birds for fun; they are part of a careful ‘enrichment’ plan to stimulate the natural behaviour and curiosity.
Keeper Alison Brown explained that ‘the texture of the ice captures the interests of the parrots as it stimulates their senses.
‘The ice lollies are part of a carefully-planned daily enrichment programme, which also includes things like nuts hidden inside logs, fruit kebabs and melons with seeds hidden inside.
‘The parrots also love to be given flowers, as they enjoy pulling them apart and tasting the nectar inside.'
ZSL staff, behavioural research students and colleagues in other organisations all work hard to create innovative methods of enriching the daily routines of animals.
ZSL aims to carry on extending the boundaries and continue to ensure that enrichment is integral to daily keeping practice.