Visitors to Taronga Zoo may get a surprise at who they find wandering the paths. Recently Billy the Brolga, a star of the zoo’s bird show has been spotted out and about wandering the paths as part of a new animal care program.
Keepers want to give Billy the opportunity to experience more of the zoo grounds. She has spent 18 years participating in the bird show making an impressive entrance by flying down to the stage from an elevated platform..
Brolgas are one of Australia’s tallest flying birds and has over two metres worth of wings. In the show she demonstrates a number of her unusual adaptations including the long beak for probing the Earth for grubs. Her long legs mean she can wade through the water which keeping her feathers dry.
Keepers are enriching Billy’s world by taking her to different parts of the zoo on daily walks.
When Billy reaches her destination keepers let her do as she pleases such as foraging through leaf litter or preening her feathers. These natural behaviours are encouraging for keepers for to see.
Keepers refer to this process as ‘enrichment.’ This allows all of the animal’s physical and behavioural needs to be meet. According to the zoo it is one of the most important jobs they have.
While keepers see their main goal as enriching Billy allowing people to share her space is an added bonus. People can join in the walk, ask questions, take photos and have an experience which they will remember for years to come.
So keep an eye out for Billy next time you’re at the zoo. It may mean a bit of hide and seek though as she has no set walk time to keep things interesting.
Photo Credit: Taronga Zoo