An animal’s sense of sight can be very important when it comes to survival, but it can also play an important role when it comes to the quality of its life. For most animals, sight is a valuable tool to help them to find food, locate shelter and communicate with other animals. Sight also allows for these animals to be visually stimulated by their surroundings. Just as people may enjoy watching the sun set, a sports event, or television, animals may also find it enriching to look at changing scenery, moving objects or attractive toys.
Keepers often provide CuriOdyssey’s animals with visual enrichment by placing a mirror in a habitat. This gives our animals the opportunity to see their own reflection, which they may find intriguing. Below is a picture of Amala, our ringtail cacomistle (Bassariscus astutus) perhaps wondering who her new roommate is.
Other types of visual enrichment include drawing images with chalk. Most of CuriOdyssey’s outdoor exhibit animals also have an indoor enclosure, which have smooth floors- perfect for chalk art! One of our interns thought the bobcats may like a picture of a dead rat…
…while one of our keepers decided a bright sun would be welcoming for our badger.
Chalk is sometimes applied to branches and walls as well. The more colorful an enclosure is, the more stimulating it may be. This is also why many pieces of furniture and toys that are in our animal’s exhibits are also multicolored. Although not all of our animals can see in color the way humans can, many of CuriOdyssey’s animals can see some color aside from black and white.
If you have been to a pet store lately, you may have noticed that some sell bubbles for cats. Blowing bubbles can be done with just about any animal, and keepers sometimes blow bubbles for our foxes, coyote and bobcats.
Aside from bubbles, other items that move can be visually stimulating for animals. The bobcats rarely turn down the chance to chase a feather toy, and our coyote will often run to check out a tossed ball or swinging piñata. Because CuriOdyssey is located in a park, there are also a lot of wild animals that catch our animal’s attention. Birds, squirrels, skunks and raccoons are just a few of the creatures that wander around the park and seem to captivate our animals. Using your sense of sight, what do you find visually stimulating during your visit CuriOdyssey? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
– post and photos by Rachael Tom, Animal Keeper