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Tips for Enriching Your Animal’s Aquatic Habitat

enriching device for aquatic animal polar bear

Summertime brings many visitors to zoos and public aquariums. It is no secret people love watching animals have fun in the water. But as any animal care professional knows, it takes more than just water to keep the animals engaged with their environment.

Ursids are inquisitive. Bears need interesting things to keep them curious and active in their environment. Bears really enjoy wrestling with large objects on land and in the water. The Funny Float is designed to provide large animals like bears and tigers with a toy that is the right size and shape, and able to stand up to the rough treatment dished out by these animals. Instead of taking a one size fits all approach, the Funny Float is available in a variety of sizes and wall thickness so you can match the float to the animal. Funny Floats are available in over twenty color patterns, making it easy to select the right design for your exhibit.

If you are caring for polar bears, penguins, otters, turtles, and other animals that enjoy the water, the Ice Flow has proven to be a winner. The Ice Flow is a floating platform for penguins and other birds. It’s also something for bears and tigers to push around. To increase engagement and curiosity, the Ice Flow has a food chamber that slowly releases food scent and flavor through six grooves molded into the structure.

Creating the proper environment for penguins is key to their long-term wellbeing. Many of the more common enrichment tools are not interesting to the birds. Some Penguin keepers have given up on the idea of using enrichment toys. Georgia Podmore from Penguins International notes that birds are sometimes nervous around the balls and other objects. She suggests experimenting with a mirror suspended under water. This is good advice. Our Underwater Mirror is built for this purpose! The exhibit-safe Lexan mirrors and stainless-steel hardware are durable and will not corrode. The Underwater Mirror provides penguins (and other aquatic life) an engaging focal point within the underwater environment.

An otter environment requires land and aquatic habitats to reduce stress and keep the family groups cohesive. It is recommended to provide otters with complex shapes in the aquatic side of the display. Aussie Dog Zoo designed their Otter Float with this in mind. The Float provides a stable platform for lazing in the sun and playing with others in the group. A Lexan mirror completes the package for full sensory, physical and interactive enrichment. Penguins and other seabirds also find the floating platform appealing.

A simple way to stimulate many of the animals in your care is with our Teaser Balls. More than a regular ball toy, Teaser Balls are a ball within a ball. This design has proven popular with many animals because it provides physical and auditory stimulation. The sights and sounds of the rattling balls are like a puzzle to solve. Whether on land or in the water, your animals will love chewing, pushing and playing with a Teaser Ball.

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Thank You Zookeepers for All That You Do!

A group of young zookeepers, feeding of a african manatees in the Zoological Garden.

Zookeepers – our animal friends in everyone’s favorite parks around the world would be lost without them. With last week being National Zookeeper Week, we took some time to reflect on how important these members of the community are, both for the well-being of zoo creatures (big and small) and keeping the public educated about them.  

Many typical zoo-goers may not realize this, but a zookeeper’s role extends far beyond feeding animals and making sure their enclosures are tidy. Did you know…a typical zookeeper usually has the following responsibilities:   

  • Administering an animal’s medication 
  • Keeping detailed reports on animal behaviors and disclosing any unusual changes to vets or managers 
  • Assisting with certain veterinary procedures 
  • Keeping detailed records 
  • Feeding the animals 
  • Keeping the animal’s enclosure clean and maintained 

Now that’s nothing to roar at! In addition to all of these duties, zookeepers are typically equipped with a background in animal science, zoology, or biology. So, the next time you have a zoo day and attend a presentation about penguins (or the animal of your choice), rest assured that these workers really do know a thing or two about their furry, feathered, or slimy friends.   

Without these well-educated folks, many animals would still be on the world’s endangered list. It’s thanks to the tireless efforts of zookeepers that species can revitalize, repopulate, and rehabilitate, both in zoos and in the wild.  

 Thank you, zookeepers!  

We would like to recognize our zookeeper friends at a few zoos around the country:

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BIG FUN for Your Big Friends – The Aptly Named TITAN!

A big package of fun for the large animals in your care… the Titan, an Otto Environmental exclusive.

This is the largest in a line of similar toys for animals of all sizes, which also includes the Weeble and the Weeto, all designed and manufactured by Otto Environmental.

The Titan measures 36″ high, with walls of 7/16″ thick polyethylene, weighing in at 200 lbs. and able to take lots of punishment.  Great for teething!

See more about the TITAN in our online store »


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It’s a Habitat, It’s a Feeder, and It’s a Favorite of Zookeepers Everywhere

bears playing gull box animal abode enrichment

Also known as the Animal Abode, the Gull Box is made from rotationally moulded polyethelene box, modified with a hole.  It can be used as a small animal nesting place, and can be a dandy treat dispenser for bears where there are Gulls around.  It comes in 4 colors.