Theme parks all tend to have a few elements in common – plenty of rides, souvenir shops, food stalls, and, of course, an abundance of birds hopping around trying to pick up any food that falls to the ground.
Now, Puy du Fou, a theme park in Les Epesses, France, has decided that if birds are going to be hanging around begging for leftover popcorn and discarded funnel cakes, they might as well earn their keep. To that end, they’ve trained a small contingent of rooks as staff – they get paid in treats to clean up garbage and cigarette butts from the grounds.
Rooks are in the same family of birds as ravens and crows, highly intelligent and trainable animals. The ones at Puy du Fou pick up litter and place it in a bin in exchange for a treat – the team of 6 birds have been working hard since August 13.
It sounds a bit out there, but the amusement park is far from the first company to give it a go. Dutch startup Crowded Cities started training crows to gather cigarette butts using a vending machine-like device that offers peanuts in exchange for trash, and the experiment is going well.
If it continues to work with no detrimental effects to the crows (from handling tobacco), we could see a broader implementation of the idea worldwide – maybe nature can help us clean up nature, even though we’re the ones who soiled it in the first place.