Hi, my name is Matthew O’Donnell and this will be my first blog post since joining the Vivarium as a part time Curatorial Assistant in August. I’m very proud to be able to post on the Frog Blog, a blog I’ve followed for a number of years and I hope you will enjoy finding out more about me and what I’ve been up to through my future posts.
My first two months have been everything and more than I could have wished for. It is a great honour for me to be able to work with such talented and experience individuals, not to mention the unique and wonderful collection of reptiles and amphibians that the vivarium maintains.
It has been an action packed first few weeks and I would like to extend my thanks to Andrew, Adam, Tom and all the staff at Manchester Museum for being so welcoming and for helping me settle in so quickly. I hope to repay their faith in me by bringing in my own ideas and expertise to help keep the well-established high standards of the Vivarium in place for the years to come.For those of you that are interested I thought I would give you a little information about me and my background. I am a graduate of Zoology from the University of Salford with 15 years’ experience working with reptiles and amphibians first as a hobbyist and more recently in a professional capacity:
I starting working at Viper and Vine an exotic pet retailer in Manchester and then moving to Chester Zoo where I worked in both voluntary and paid roles within the Herpetology and Invertebrate departments. Having grown up in Manchester some of my first encounters with exotic species of reptiles and amphibians were at the Vivarium in Manchester Museum, I was lucky to have such a fantastic resource on my doorstep and I know first-hand the influence such an establishment can have on the development and nurturing of a love of the natural world. It was this love of the natural world and specifically reptiles and amphibians that resulted in me choosing a career path that would allow me to work closely with these groups of animals.
Something I have been working on in these first few weeks is behavioural enrichment, which is a really exciting area to explore with animals. It basically looks at ways to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of animals in captivity through the use of stimuli.
Enriching the lives of the animals in our care is something that I and the rest of the team here in the Vivarium are very passionate about. One of the most exciting aspects of enrichment is that you can never do too much, and part of the fun is thinking up new novel ways to enhance the lives of the animals under your care – you can look at a variety of areas but the ones I have been focusing on lately are sensory enrichment, feeding enrichment and environmental enrichment. This short video is an example of some of the feeding enrichment I’ve been carrying out with the Fijian Iguana we have here in the Vivarium.
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