It's officially been three weeks since my arrival in the City of Baltimore and the beginning of my internship at BZIM, and man does time fly! It feels like it has only been a handful of days, not weeks. I have started my internship project for the zoo and I am excited to say that I will be creating enrichment items for Ray Ray, the zoo's youngest dama gazelle. Ray Ray is a special case because he was bottle raised by the keepers and so has a dangerous interest in people and views them as play mates. And when an animal has sharp, 14 inch horns you do not want to be viewed as a playmate... and because of this and his father's dislike of another fully mature male he is unable to go out onto exhibit. This means that until a new home for him is found he has to stay in his stall and holding yard. And while these yards are a good size, they aren't large enough for Ray Ray to stay entertained and the lack of interaction with other animals is not ideal.
This means that special care is taken to ensure that Ray Ray has the proper amount of enrichment and stimulation, this way stereotypical behavior does not develop and the health and happiness of the animal is preserved. So, in order to determine what types of new enrichment would be best for Ray Ray I have been observing him with his current enrichment items. Things that he is most interested in are, of course, food and large items that he can spar with.
For example, here is one accidental enrichment item that Ray Ray loves to play with. It's actually his holding yard water bucket... but it tends to only have water in it for 10 or 15 minutes before Ray Ray knocks it over and puts it on his head. This is a picture of him after 10 or so minutes of playing with the bucket. He had managed to keep the bucket on his head long enough to bring it all the way back into his stall. This just proves that you never know what is going to interest animals!
Anyways, all this week was spent at the antelope/warthog barn observing Ray Ray in between doing the normal chores of a keeper intern.