Zoo promotes June festival for animals in Ceará | Ceará

Not only the population can enjoy the June festivities at this time of year. The Canindé Zoo, in the interior of Ceará, provided the animals of the place with environmental enrichment activities with an atmosphere of June celebration.

According to Taíse Praxedes, a Zootechnics student at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and one of the organizers of the action, environmental enrichment is a set of techniques for the environmental behavior of captive animals, providing well-being for them. Thus, animals are able to interact with a dynamic and interactive environment, with challenges similar to the natural habitat.

In an environmental enrichment, animals can, for example, be encouraged to open a box by themselves, in which there is an item that serves as a reward. “These are activities that stimulate the search, the scent, the curiosity of the animals, behaviors of nature, so that they can reproduce them in captivity”, explained the student, also a volunteer at the zoo.

The activity, however, is not restricted to the incorporation of themes. Thematic enrichment is common in the equipment routine, which also performs other actions. “When there are festivities, we end up putting more effort into it, to draw the public’s attention and further promote environmental education,” he said.

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Those who visit the zoo are faced with an almost complete arraiá de São João. June aspects are encompassed both in props and in activities carried out with the animals kept in the equipment.

Wild cats are stimulated to mark territory through olfactory stimuli. — Photo: Ian Toscano/Disclosure

One of the enrichments is inspired by the kiss tent, common in the festivities of the time. The “smell tent” features a couple of wild cats in a sensorial interaction: with little baskets with cinnamon, oregano and catnip, the animals behave in a way to demarcate territory.

In addition, the cats can also count on another item of the festivities for sensory stimulation: the famous bonfire. Revamped without the flames, the wildcat and buckcat can interact with props made with cinnamon sticks. As a result, the animals are stimulated not only by smell, but also by other senses — normally, cinnamon is offered in powder form, with a different texture.

Typical foods are also present in environmental enrichment. Capuchin monkeys and marmosets, popularly known as soins, have access to a menu based on corn and popcorn, made without oil and salt. The search for food offers the animals stimuli for exploration and curiosity.

Soins and capuchin monkeys may have their curiosity stimulated to enjoy the goodies. — Photo: Ian Toscano/Disclosure

The thematic enrichment also brings elements of the June Quadrangles. Corn snakes access a cardboard box with a maze. At a given moment, the snakes can be seen by the visitors — and the saying “Look at the snake”, common in shows as a joke, starts to actually occur.

Visitors can, during enrichment, meet the corn snake and ask questions about how to react to the encounter with an individual of the species. — Photo: Ian Toscano/Disclosure

Although distinct from each other, all environmental enrichments work with stimuli for animals to get out of the routine. Because of this, the animals are encouraged to have natural behaviors, such as hunting, searching, exploring, curiosity, among others, attracting the public by the playful nature of the actions.

The thoughtful and neat decoration brings returns not only to the specimens that live in the unit: the visitors also start to have a different performance. “For the animal it’s the same stimulus, but a painted box ends up attracting more the public and ends up changing the zoo’s routine”, commented the volunteer.

According to her, the zoo public, during the action, wants to see the animals interacting with the flags, with the popcorn boxes and other items included in the environmental enrichments. One of the most interested segments is children, who are more difficult to focus on in more everyday situations.

“At this moment, with the public’s greater attention, we are able to explain, say that we are harboring the animal. People think that the animals were taken from nature to be trapped, but we show that we are providing conditions for the well-being of animals. he live and talks about the importance of the zoo’s role”.

In order to carry out a thematic enrichment, the entire body of equipment professionals is mobilized. In this way, the unit’s employees modify the routine in favor of working together to produce the action.

“It ends up changing the routine because we end up trying to come up with ideas that are attractive to the public. We try to be creative, try to guess the animal’s reaction, how the activity will affect sensory stimuli”, reported Taíse Praxedes, adding that the workers they also take time to prepare—sometimes more than once—the elements used.

Parrots interact with June flags in search of grains glued to items. — Photo: Ian Toscano/Disclosure

In the case of parrots, the birds interact with little flags made of cardboard painted with non-toxic paint and with different seeds stuck together with natural wheat flour glue. The animals try to obtain the grains to use them as food and, thus, destroy the June adornments, which is expected in the activity. Because of this, new flags are made and placed in other enclosures.

Although the June-themed enrichment is planned for another two weeks, other thematic actions are being planned. The student said that such actions occur routinely, and in allusion to commemorative dates, such as Easter and Valentine’s Day, or awareness campaigns, such as Abril Laranja, about animal abuse.

“We post it to the public on Instagram, but sometimes the visitor arrives later and no longer has the same enrichment”, said the student, noting that the activity always occurs in the animals’ routine. “There’s no time to do this all the time, with all these elements. But the zoo isn’t just for having the animals to be seen; it’s a program for the individual“.

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