Aquarium launches wish list for animal enrichment

By on June 27, 2018

Animal ambassador Webster, a Virginia opossum, interacts with one of his many enrichment items.

What do seahorses, frogs, an Eastern screech owl, an opossum and snakes have in common?

All of them are animal ambassadors at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island, and all benefit from enrichment activities.

Now, with the launch of a new Amazon wish list, aquarium fans can contribute to animal enrichment and training needs.

Enrichment activities enhance animals’ health and well-being, encouraging them to move, think and problem-solve in different ways. Guests can often see examples of these activities and items during aquarium visits.

By engaging the animals’ need to explore their environment, these tools promote psychological and physiological wellness. NCARI’s husbandry team has compiled a wish list of items that will do just that for the animals in their care.

Each listing includes an explanation of how the item will benefit specific animals, such as toys which encourage natural foraging behaviors in freshwater turtles, and a tunnel for the opossum to investigate.

Sick and injured sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center also receive various forms of enrichment, which promote exercise, natural foraging habits and more. These activities are important to their recovery, and the wish list includes many items to help STAR Center staff with these tasks.

A similar wish list was created this past winter, when nearly 200 cold-stunned sea turtles were admitted to the STAR Center. That list focused on items needed to help those turtle patients, and the public response was so positive the aquarium decided to expand the list to include more aquarium animals.

The entire Amazon wish list may be found at NC Aquarium Wish List.

The N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the mission of “Inspiring appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments.”

The aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Learn more at NC Aquariums/Roanoke Island.

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