In the Africa aviary, along the Gorilla Falls Trail at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, some birds may be difficult for guests to view, due to their preferred location in the tree tops. Using enrichment allows our guests to see many species that are shy, or naturally spend a majority of their day high in the canopy. A designated area was constructed just off the pathway, which allows the birds to be comfortable and exhibit natural behaviors right in front of guests.
We began pairing the sound of maraca with treats in this area exclusively, and very quickly the birds in the exhibit realized that their favorite foods have arrived and that they had a window of opportunity to take advantage of it. We like to compare this activity to the ice cream truck driving down the street. If you don’t act quickly enough, you will miss out on a treat! Watching different species choose different foods, allows us to customize the enrichment and call in specific birds for our guests to see. We try to only offer foods that are novel rather than a staple of their normal diet. The special offerings are highly valued by the birds and are truly a treat
Targeting certain birds, means on just about any given day, we can bring a species closer to our guests for them to admire, photograph, and it gives us a chance to deliver powerful educational messages! The enrichment we give is great show for our guests and excellent stimulation for our birds. Foraging can be a very natural behavior for some birds; it can encourage other natural behaviors as well, such as vocalization, displays, or even feeding a mate or chick! When our guests see a bird interacting with enrichment, we are able to transport them into the wild and give them a glimpse of the heart of Africa!
Here you can see a video where papaya and strawberries were used to bring Great blue turaco down out of the canopy where they spend the majority of their day. This interaction allows us time to educate and inspire, while our guests admire and photograph these amazing creatures. When we bring this bird to the feeding area, our gests get to appreciate the size, color and subtle features of the bird, including its 3 inch crest of feathers on top of its head! This pair even felt comfortable enough to engage in a little pair bonding as the male fed the female.