My name is Lauren Kline, and I am a behavioral biology summer intern for the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. I will be a senior this coming fall at The College of Idaho, where I am a biology major with psychology and crime in society minors. After I graduate, I hope to go to graduate school to further study animal behavior. Let me tell you a little bit about what I will be doing all summer.
My goal is to find out if marsupials, which are pouched mammals such as kangaroos, wombats, and koalas, will interact with different enrichment items if they are presented to them and, if so, how they interact with these items. With the help of the awesome Outback keepers at the San Diego Zoo, we will be presenting four different types of enrichment to three different species (Parma wallabies, Buerger’s tree kangaroos, and the southern hairy-nosed wombats) and monitoring the way they interact with the items.
Although my project has just started, I’ll give you a sneak peek into what I’ve found out so far. The first enrichment the marsupials experienced was different parts of the palm, such as big fronds, a ‘tunnel’ made of palm sheets, and a ‘roll’ made of palm sheets. And…they liked it! They seemed a little unsure of what to do at first, but they were definitely interested and have been spending time around the items, checking things out.
So, if you find yourself at the San Diego Zoo in the Outback near any of these animals and see a young lady with a stopwatch and a clipboard, that’s me! Make sure to look for the enrichment, and ask me if you have any questions! In the coming weeks the marsupials will be provided with dirt and mulch piles, puzzle feeders, and scent markings. Check back here later this summer for another post, and I’ll let you know what new information I’ve discovered about just how curious some marsupials can be!
Lauren Kline is a Bonner Summer Student Intern in the Behavioral Biology Division at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research.