Discussion point - enrichment v. habitat design
Enrichment is not an add-on
Penguin BriefPENGUINS (Michelle Westerlaken)
Design a playful object for the Magellanic Penguins in the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, California). The 21 Magellanic penguins of this non-profit aquarium are either rescued or were born in captivity (including transfers from other zoos) and they cannot be returned to the wild. In captivity they can live up to 25/30 years (as opposed to 15 in the wild) and they are especially playful in their first years.
Aviculturist Sara Mandel got an iPad game for her cats, and decided to try it out on the penguins too. To her surprise they found it interesting and different penguins from the group started to interact with the game. For some of the penguins, interacting with the iPad became part of their daily enrichment routine. By taking part in the interaction as human being as well, Sara Mandel found new ways to check upon the penguin’s physical and mental well-being while they interacted with the game. The development of playful interactions that are not purely screen based, but include physical and tangible elements, would fit better with the way in which these penguins usually display playful interactions.
The aquarium is interested in any kind of playful artefacts that could somehow connect the penguins with the visitors on the other side of the glass wall and teach people more about the penguin species and their endangered status.
In the summer of 2017, Michelle will return to the aquarium and carry out a two-month design process aimed at generating new insights into designing playful artefacts for other species in the context of a zoo. With your permissions, credits, and acknowledgements, she would like to include your reflections and prototypes as a starting point and inspiration for this project.