When it comes to intelligence, what animals come to mind?
Turns out you’ll need to add crows to that list. Crows or corvids are considered to be among the world’s most intelligent animals, according to recent studies. In fact, their brain size (relative to their bodies) approaches that of some apes.
Great Lakes Aquarium has a crow in residence. Freeway, an American crow like the ones you probably see and hear in your neighborhood, came to us about seven years ago. He was found injured on a freeway (hence the name) and was taken in by a family who cared for him. Since it is illegal to keep migratory birds as pets, he ended up here. And he’s been showing us just how much he can do ever since. Part of his enrichment includes solving puzzles, completing tasks and opening containers. The rewards for a job well done are always positive reinforcement and, of course, food.
Earlier this year, Freeway moved to the exhibit floor (Level 1) next to Otter Cove. Now, he is nearly ready for his close-up. His skills will soon be part of a Creature Feature program where he’ll delight and wow visitors.
Among his newly acquired skills, collecting “mail”.
At the side of Freeway’s exhibit we’ve designed a mail slot in which trainers (and soon, visitors) can insert “Freeway Bucks”. Freeway collects them and puts them in his trusty bucket. He practiced today and, for the first time, took some bucks from a visitor. Her name is Maarit and it happens to be her birthday!
We put together a fun video this week showcasing all the amazing things Freeway has learned in a relatively short period of time. We think he’s pretty special. We hope you do, too.