Staffers at the Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, England had been trying to find new ways to keep their feathered residents entertained when a zoo patron suddenly donated a bubble machine.
Penguin caretaker Dan Trevelyan said the bubbles help to keep the penguins’s predatory reflexes sharp.
“In the wild, these guys are marine predators who are very sensitive to objects and movement,” said Trevelyan. “The bubble machine is fantastic, as all the movement and new shapes and colors really stimulate these guys. They have a great time chasing them around. And all these donations are really appreciated.”
The bubbles, which cause no harm to the animals, have in the past also proved popular with the Zoo’s squirrel monkeys and Sulawesi crested macaques.
Animal enrichment programs are used to provide zoo animals with specialized stimulation designed to encourage their natural behaviors and prevent them from getting bored.
Enrichment usually consists of branches and foliage, but can also come in the form of food hidden in hard-to-reach places for the animals to find.
Research has shown that animal enrichment program are as important for the wellbeing of zoo animals as a nutritious diet and good veterinary care. These birds in particular are usually kept occupied by feeding shows and guests visiting the zoo, but due to the novel coronavirus, their daily routine was forced to change. Thankfully, Newquay Zoo fully re-opened to the general public on July 1st.