Once a zookeeper, always a zookeeper. I admit I was trained well. When I started my career in zoos back in 1990 I worked for the best kind of boss a newbie could have….a stickler for cleanliness and exceptional animal care.
The standards were high but they were enforced with a gentle hand. I never resented having to keep animal enclosures meticulous. I remember at one zoo where I worked we had to rake a dirt floor to remove animal waste and debris.
One of my coworkers commented you are raking the dirt to make a pile of dirt to throw away. He was right …even the dirt had to be clean! I admit that was a bit of overkill, but to this day I take pride in putting my animals first. .
This means every morning the first thing I do is prepare Parrot diets and clean enclosures. I aim to have a training session and one on one time with my birds every morning. Enrichment is changed out daily. And access to sunshine and fresh air for my Parrots is also on my daily check off list.
Taking care of the animals comes before checking email, taking a shower or diving into the day’s workload. Sometimes this means it might be 11 AM before emails get answered.
I suppose it could easily become a chore, but in reality I thoroughly enjoy that part of the day. I probably even take a little longer than I should just to allow more time to enjoy the companion Parrots in my life.
One of the really great benefits to being a zookeeper is you very quickly learn ways to effectively and efficiently clean Parrot enclosures.
I have often thought Parrot rescues should take a tip from zoos and set up their housing just as a zoo would instead of using cages designed for people’s homes.
You can thoroughly clean 30 large Parrot enclosures in a jiffy with the right set up. We don’t quite have that luxury in our homes. But there are some things you can do to make the job easier.
Here are a few cleaning tips:
• Spray water on caked on food or droppings and let it sit for 10 minutes. You will find it wipes up easily after a few minutes of soaking.
• Keep a set of cleaning utensils (sponges, paper towels, garbage bags, clean paper) in every bird area. It saves you a lot of walking.
• Invest in an electric carpet sweeper. These are great for picking up big chunks and keeping daily clean up quick and under control.
• Use washable throw rugs under Parrot perches. Have plenty of extra on hand to trade out when dirty. I have found inexpensive ones at Ikea.
• Buy rolls or bundles of newsprint at packaging stores. I get mine at Eco-Box. Place layers in the cage. Remove layers as they get soiled.
Have you got a great cleaning tip? Leave it in the comments below. Lots of Parrot lovers will thank you.
This article was originally published on Barbara’s blog in April 2011
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Copyright Good Bird Inc 2011
Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional animal trainer since 1990. Her company Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training (www.BarbarasFFAT.com) provides animal training DVDs, books, webinars and workshops. She has been a featured speaker in over twenty countries and has been published in nine languages. Barbara works with the companion animal community and also consults on animal training in zoos.
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