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Wildlife Conservation Society: Making waves at the central park zoo

By creating a current in Gus, Ida and Lily's pool that simulates an arctic stream that polar bears would find in the wild, the Endless Pool has inspired some new diving and swimming behaviors.
By creating a current in Gus, Ida and Lily's pool that simulates an arctic stream that polar bears would find in the wild, the Endless Pool has inspired some new diving and swimming behaviors.

The polar bears at the Central Park Zoo have been going with the flow - and going against it as well. An "Endless Pool" has been installed into their exhibit that has, literally, been making waves!

The new device was donated by James Murdock, President of Endless Pools Swimming Machines. By creating a current in Gus, Ida and Lily's pool that simulates an arctic stream that polar bears would find in the wild, the Endless Pool has inspired some new diving and swimming behaviors. "Ida is acting like a kid in a water park," says Animal Curator Don Moore. "She swims up to the pool, lets go and floats backwards. Visitors, volunteers and staff love to watch all the bears play." The swim current is controlled by the zoo keepers and is turned on at random, so the bears won't expect it. The swim current flows for approximately thirty minutes before automatically turning itself off.

The Endless Pool is one of Central Park Zoo's many methods of "enrichment" - ways in which the animal staff stimulate the daily lives of Zoo residents. Gus, Ida, and Lily are not the only animals that are being constantly enriched. From otters to red pandas, poison dart frogs to goats, the zookeepers ensure that all the animals at the Central Park Zoo are stimulated both mentally and physically on a daily basis. According to Don Moore, this stimulation is beneficial to all involved. "After all," he says, "enrichment is fun for the animals, fun for the staff, and fun for our guests."

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