Painting with Paws

June 24, 2013

Who doesn’t like to finger paint?

Why, you ask, would I every give the otters paint and paper? Obviously, it is fun for us, but what on earth is in it for them?

Enrichment. Enrichment is how we make all captive animals lives a little more exciting. The otters eat, sleep, and swim in the same spaces daily. It is our job and duty, because we house them here, to make every day a little different.

As their keeper, I enrich them at least three times each day. Yep, three times. I will tell you all about their abundance of enrichment items another time.  Today, let’s talk about painting.

Paint has a squishy, wet, slippery texture. It is way different than any of the other textures they come in contact with on a daily basis. What could we compare it to that they might come across? Mud. They would definitely come up mud now and again in the wild, so it is safe to say that this texture wouldn’t be too crazy for them.

I have offered it in many ways. I give them lots of options. One of which is that they can always choose to not step on the paper or paint. They can go around it at any time. I leave some paper blank, and some covered completely in paint. Either way, they can step on one and not the other, or they can go over all of it. It’s up to them.