May 8, 2012
Twenty four Canisius juniors and seniors participated in a flash mob at the Buffalo Zoo yesterday as part of an animal enrichment class taught by Sue Margulis, PhD, assistant professor of Animal Behavior, Ecology and Conservation (ABEC), and biology.
At the zoo, animals receive daily enrichment to help stimulate natural behaviors. Enrichment is something new to the animals (scents, sounds, food, toys, thought-provoking puzzles, etc.), which challenges them physically or mentally to help alleviate boredom in captivity.
In the Canisius animal enrichment class, students focus on the practice and study of enrichment for animals in laboratories, shelters and zoos. Students developed five different enrichments over the course of the semester and have evaluated their effectiveness by observing animals before and during the enrichment. Yesterday, the students performed a choreographed dance routine for the elephants, lions, tigers and polar bears. Dressed in bright colored clothing, the students waved their arms and danced in unison in front of the exhibits. Click here to see the flash mob in front of the polar bear exhibit.
As part of the class, the students also talk to Zoo visitors about their projects, explain what enrichment entails and why it is important for the overall health of animals.
The idea of the flash mob emerged in a discussion between students and Margulis over whether visitors can serve as a form of enrichment as well. The answer is yes. “We’re novel,” said Margulis. “The animals see different visitors every day, so we become the enrichment.”
Submitted by: Public Relations