Monday, 14 May 2007

A&G Centre - Zoo visit and animal enrichment installation - Adam Zaretsky

On May 4th I was invited to join Adam Zaretsky's class on their visit to the Amsterdam Zoo (Artis). Zaretsky is an American Bioartist who I met last year at the SLSA Conference in Amsterdam, who is here as guest lecturer at the A&G Centre for 6 weeks. He's giving his Vivoarts class, which delves into Ecology and EcoArt, Gastronomy and Edible Art, Biology and Bio-Art,
Ethology and Art for Non-humans, Physiology and Body Art and involves a couple of hands on Lab classes. So I think i'll tag along on next weeks class too...

First we had a lecture by one of their P.R people/staff on animal life in the zoo and a little on their animal enrichment strategies, which were really surprisingly poor and unimaginative. I don't know how many Zoos have an animal enrichment program - maybe it's quite a new thing, but I really don't see how throwing a road works witch's hat into the polar bear pen counts as a legitimate form of animal enrichment! I think they seriously need some creative people on their team. We also got to go behind the scenes with one of the zookeepers, and see the little concrete pens where the animals sleep, as well as see their freezers full of a whole assortment of frozen animals (food). It was like a cross between a butchers and a museum in there - so many different kinds of rodents well as skinned things like chickens. Mostly the tigers just live off a whole cow carcass which is thrown in the pen every three days.

The focus of the class was really on animal enrichment, so our main activity was to create a contraption from bunji cord and random animal toys etc, including a trampoline, that could go into one of the animal enclosures for the nanimals to play with - see below. I think we kind of freaked out the zoo staff, and they didn't put the crazy contraption into any enclosure, but they said they'd modify it and get back to us....Hah. I wonder.

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