SOS enrichment

Friday, 25 October 2019

 Groups in the Eastern Region enjoyed a visit to Suffolk Owl Sanctaury during October half term, where they delivered some enrichment items for the animals.

Animals in captivity don't have the same pressures of finding food, water and shelter as their wild cousins, so to stop them from getting bored, Keepers often provide them with enrichment. This can be puzzle feeders, toys or just interesting items in their enclosures.

Development Officer Susan previously worked in a Zoo so understands how important this is. "Animals are just like humans in that we need to keep them both physically and mentally stimulated. It's not easy to provide acres of space to replicate a natural habitat for some animals in captivity, so instead we can make sure that the space the animals have access to is as interesting as possible for them."

In the spring term, Diss, Ipswich and Thetford Pioneer groups made enrichment items from cardboard boxes and tubes, and papier mache using a flour and water paste. The groups came up with loads of creative ideas and had lots of messy fun turning their ideas into reality! As the items were to be delivered during October half term, the groups decided to go for a Halloween theme on the decoration. This was done using child safe poster paints, food colouring and felt tip pens.

Bury St Edmunds Pioneers delivered the items to the Meerkats, Ferrets, Rats and Xena the Caracara, and were treated to some close encounters with these critters!  Pioneer Adele said " I really enjoyed going in with the Meerkats, especially when the Keeper allowed them to climb on our laps! I also fell in love with the rats, and now want one as a pet!" They also enjoyed seeing the other animals and birds that call the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary home, including watching Hakin the Red Kite "go for a jolly" and literally flying circles around the falconers! Abigail was interested to find out that female birds of prey are larger than males, and particularly enjoyed watching Xena enjoy her box and watching the Owls in their aviaries.

Mum Fran said "The visit was extremely informative and interesting! The Keeper was amazingly patient with the group and made sure it was inclusive for all."

Mum Polly said " We would like to send Suffolk Owl Sanctuary a HUGE thank you for the 5 star experience we all received. The group were given the opportunity to have an amazing up close handling experience with the meerkats, ferrets and rats (which we were not expecting). The Keeper was extremely knowledgeable and happy to answer the bombardment of questions from curious children and adults! The children loved watching the animals explore the enrichment toys they made and some have come away with a new found love for these small furry creatures."

Susan says "Making enrichment is a really fun cooperative activity, which gets the kids thinking about animal welfare, design and recycling. You can get it touch with your local Zoo, Wildlife Park or similar to ask if they would like some enrichment made"

For more information about Suffolk Owl Sanctuary:
 https://www.owl-help.org.uk/

To find your nearest Zoo:
 https://biaza.org.uk/