Mixed-species care for Lionel and Lilo
Hello all you Zoo-goers! We have been more than happy to see everyone back on grounds. As you may or may not know, the Ambassador Animals Team welcomed in a new species late last year. Lilo the Patagonian mara has been with us since November. A few months ago we actually introduced her to her new roommate, Lionel, our southern crested screamer. Both animals are native to South America and are sharing the same space in one of few mixed species habitats here at Zoo Atlanta. This is very exciting in many ways, but can also be challenging to have different species sharing the same habitat.
Some of the things we have to think about after the animals are introduced properly include difference in diet and environmental needs. There are certain parts of the mara diet that Lionel cannot eat and vice versa. In order to avoid unapproved access to diet, we built two excluders that are designed for each animal. One excluder covers Lilo’s diet and excludes Lionel from gaining access to it, and the other excluder covers Lionel’s diet and excludes Lilo from gaining access. The excluder for Lilo is big enough for only her body to fit through, and Lionel’s excluder is just big enough for his head and neck to fit through, so he can bend down and reach his diet bowl.
Lionel is a waterfowl bird, which means he needs to have access to water as part of his environmental needs. We gave Lionel a pool, but that meant that Lilo was ultimately also going to have access to this pool. The pool filled with water is considered to be a novel item for Lilo, which means it needed approval from vets and upper management here at the Zoo, so it went through that process as a new enrichment item. Vets and managers would take the item approval form and make sure it was safe for Lilo to have access to the pool as well. Turns out, Lionel uses it to bathe, and Lilo uses it as a giant water dish to drink out of. Hey, whatever makes them happy, right? It’s great to have a team that’s able to troubleshoot challenges like this and come up with so many great ideas in order to show you guys what a habitat looks like with different animals living together that are native to the same continent out in the wild!
Keeper II, Ambassador Animals