Animal ambassador Webster, a Virginia opossum, interacts with one of his enrichment items.

The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI) has launched a new Amazon wish list where aquarium fans can contribute to animal enrichment and training needs.

            Among the beneficiaries are the aquarium’s animal ambassadors, including a screech owl, opossum, snakes, frogs and seahorses.

            Enrichment activities enhance animals’ health and well-being, encouraging them to move, think and problem-solve in different ways, and guests can often see examples of these activities during aquarium visits. By engaging their need to explore their environment, these tools promote psychological and physiological wellness.

            NCARI’s husbandry team has compiled a wish list of items that will do just that for the animals in their care. Each listing includes an explanation of how the item will benefit specific animals, such as toys that encourage natural foraging behaviors in freshwater turtles and a tunnel for the opossum to investigate.

            Sick and injured sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center also receive various forms of enrichment that promote exercise, natural foraging habits and more. These activities are important to their recovery, and the wish list includes many items to help STAR Center staff with these tasks.

            A similar wish list was created this past winter, when nearly 200 cold-stunned sea turtles were admitted to the STAR Center. That list focused on items needed to help those turtle patients, and the public response was so positive the aquarium decided to expand the list to include more aquarium animals.

            The entire Amazon wish list can be found online at amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/1XP5UPTT045F4.


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