OFI at the International Conference for Environmental Enrichment
This August OFI was proud to participate in the 10th International Conference for Environmental Enrichment (ICEE) hosted by the Oregon Zoo and the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Portland, Oregon. Organized by The Shape of Enrichment, ICEE is an annual conference where individuals and organizations from all corners of the globe meet to present innovative ideas and success stories in the field of animal enrichment. OFI was represented by Ibu Maryanti, Enrichment Coordinator for OFI’s Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ). Ibu Maryanti, with the help of local assistants and a team of volunteers, is responsible for enriching the lives of the 330 orangutans currently in the care of OFI. Ibu Maryanti not only attended the conference, but also presented to the 300 attendees. The five-day conference included over 80 presentations outlining enrichment strategies for numerous animal species from fish to mammals.
Ibu Maryanti spoke of the daily enrichment the orangutans under OFI’s care receive as part of the Holistic Environmental Enrichment Program. OFI’s orangutans receive structural enrichment items such as hammocks and swings in their sleeping enclosures. However, it was the fern leaf parcels that were the biggest hit with conference attendees. Fresh fern leafs are collected daily at the OCCQ and wrapped around various food items such as gelatin squares, peanut butter, noodles, and soy bean sprouts. The parcels provide the orangutans with a task to complete in order to receive the “reward”. The fern leaves also give orangutans nesting materials to re-use in making night nests. It is common for enrichment items to be placed into boxes or plastic containers but rarely are natural materials used that provide a strong dual function for the animal. At the conference Ibu Maryanti’s fern parcels were acknowledged as an innovative idea from “outside the box.”
Ibu Maryanti was selected from many applicants to receive a scholarship to attend the conference. Not only did this scholarship provide her with the opportunity to share OFI’s work with an international audience, but also it provided the opportunity for her to travel outside of Indonesia for the very first time. Although Ibu Maryanti had an amazing three-week international adventure, she was happy to return home to meals of rice and hot chillies. She was especially happy to return to her family. Attending the conference sparked some great new ideas for enrichment at the OCCQ, especially for the large male orangutans who cannot be released on a daily basis. The opportunity to meet new people and make direct contacts with other professionals in her field was one of the most rewarding aspects of the conference for Ibu Maryanti. She feels fortunate to have been awarded both the scholarship and the travel opportunity to North America and is looking forward to attending next year’s ICEE in the Philippines.
Ibu Maryanti gives much credit to the dedicated enrichment volunteers for the success of OFI’s enrichment program. She also acknowledges the generous donations from OFI members and supporters for their contributions. Ibu Maryanti truly loves her job and the orangutans she works with every day. Enrichment is vital to the rehabilitation process and to the daily lives of all animals, not just orangutans. If you are interested in donating to the OFI’s Holistic Environmental Enrichment Program, please visit our Amazon.com Wish List to donate enrichment items and medical supplies.
Learn more about the International Conference on Environmental Enrichment by visiting The Shape of Enrichment’s website at www.enrichment.org.