The Puy du Fou theme park in the Vendée region is innovating: Christophe Gaborit, a professional bird trainer, has now trained six ravens to pick up trash. The ravens’ “work” is to pick up cigarette butts and other small pieces of trash and despot the waste in a box created by the park’s magician.
The box is equipped with an automated reward system. When ravens drop an object into the box, they are rewarded with a treat. The ingenuity of this trash collection technique attracts an enormous amount of crows, which effectively compete to pick up as many pieces of trash as possible. An entire bucket of waste can be collected in forty-five minutes.
The type of race chosen for cleaning the park is the “rook” raven, a bird known for its intelligence. Christophe Gaborit had the idea to use ravens to clean the park over twenty years ago. Back then, he spent many hours observing these birds and discovering their ability to pick up small objects off of the ground.
A fun and rich experience filled with interesting lessons
The director of the park, Nicolas de Villiers, says that the six ravens’ job is not to clean up the park. With more than 2 million visitors per year, it would be delusional to believe that a few birds could clean an entire theme park. But the presence of these birds nonetheless makes visitors aware of the importance of protecting the environment.
The spectacle of these raven trash collectors is very popular amongst tourists. However, for Christophe Gaborit, the most interesting part of the whole attraction is to improve the image of the raven, which the public often sees in a negative light. Christophe Gaborit’s hopes have succeeded, with press from around the world coming to see the ravens. And as of today, the theme park may even expand its flock, as it has received authorized to raise other raven chicks.