March 28, 2021
- as seen by -Alexis Mone and Jasmine Crowell
The cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) in the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! New York Bight exhibit are very active and curious, making them both thoroughly entertaining for guests and great for receiving novel enrichment items. After seeing some examples at other facilities, we decided to build a device that allows our rays to show off their artistic talent by painting. We combined this idea with an established enrichment device, a food-filled puzzle ball, to allow them to create their art.
Using PVC pipes, we designed an apparatus that allows our rays to manipulate this ball that has been connected to a paintbrush. With one of us holding a canvas in front of it, the rays are free to move the brush around as they find the food. Not only is this device stimulating for the rays, it provides us with a lifelong souvenir.
It’s always fun finding new things for the animals we care for; it just so happens that our latest creation provides enrichment for our keepers as well.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To celebrate Women’s History Month, Wild View is featuring posts by and about women and their contributions to science and conservation throughout March.