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Holidaying in France? - don’t miss the parrots!

Spreads for web 4

Rosemary Low

During the summers and autumns of 2013 and 2014 I was fortunate to visit nine zoos in four European countries.  On such visits I was especially interested in the accommodation for parrots and what had been provided in the way of environmental enrichment.

Outstanding in this respect were the three collections I visited in France.  Enrichment was not so much in the form of swings and other items to keep parrots occupied, but rather in the whole environment, which was often as natural as possible within the confines of an aviary. This was achieved by planting within the enclosure and immediately adjacent to it.

Many people believe that you cannot keep parrots amongst plants, but provided the aviary is large, this is true only of cockatoos.  Even the planting outside the aviary, if carefully planned, or even accidental, can add much enjoyment to the lives of parrots.  In a small zoo in Belgium, an aviary for Grey Parrots had a walnut tree at its side.  The branches were dropping walnuts on to the roof of the aviary, and the Greys were busily occupied trying to break these open.  What a great idea for a cockatoo aviary!

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