TAMPA, Fla. - The macaws at Zoo Tampa are taking to the sky on a new route that's giving visitors a better chance to see their grace and beauty.
Twice a day, the colorful birds soar across the park to their trainers who are waiting for them at perches around the zoo. Over the past few months, trainers have taught the macaws to take a longer route during the "Macaw Flyover." This will give guests even more time to view the birds.
"Our birds knew one flight path for many, many years so it was challenging to teach them a new flight path," said trainer Sue Young.
Trainers started with one bird at a time, using positive reinforcement and choice based training. This includes lots of healthy treats for the macaws.
Since the new flight path is longer than the original, they focused on building the birds stamina and confidence. Staff members worked on making the training, which was done in small increments, as fun as possible for the birds.
Young says the most frequently asked question she receives is, "Why don't the birds fly away?"
Her answer is simple: "They can. But we teach them it's a lot more fun to be hanging out with us. They know us really well, like their family, so they definitely find being with us comfortable and fun."
Guests can see nearly a dozen macaws flying over Zoo Tampa twice a day, seven days a week.