Here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium we have been very blessed to have met and been collaborating with Don and Cindy Lang. For those of you who do not know Don and Cindy, they are a couple that works with various aquariums to produce enrichment and cognitive devices for resident animals. Currently Don and Cindy have collaborated with our team of trainers to produce a bubble machine and music piano for our resident dolphins.
The most recent device we have conceptualized and was brought to life by Don and Cindy is our Otter Enrichment Device! The idea behind this device was to provide different enrichment to the otters (food, toys, or water play), but rather than us choosing the reinforcement the otter gets to choose what they want. The way it works is a base plate is placed into the otter habitat; on it has a series of 4 buttons that the otter can choose from. Three of the buttons correspond to different enrichment (food, toys, or water play) and the forth button must be pushed to receive the reinforcement. The enrichment once selected will drop down out of select areas in their habitat (see picture right). We have decided to call the device the “Ultimate Reinforcer.” It is somewhat similar to a stuffed toy claw machine. You would move the joystick to select what you want and then you press the trigger button to drop the claw to grab the toy. We are very excited to provide this form of enrichment to our otters! Please come join us in otter oasis to see it in action!