Check out these winning super sustainable feeding pouches some of our crafty volunteers have made for our Animal Experiences team to use for giving birds tiny food treats during training and flight school sessions.

The team’s brief to our volunteers: “We need super strong pouches that fit our different hand sizes, cater for nuts, seeds and syringes (for nectar feeding the rainbow lorikeets) and stop some of our clever and cheekier feathered friends from breaking into them!”

Animal Experiences team leader Lizzy says she and her team can be training with birds - from macaws, lorikeets, galahs, and other parrots, to emu - up to 20 times a day, and their hands are constantly dipping in and out of the pouches. It’s a stimulating and enriching experience for these birds...and also means the pouches take a real hammering.

“The ‘off the shelf’ pouches we’ve been using that have had to come from overseas were quite pricy and would fray and break within a pretty short time, and we’ve been really keen for a sustainable local alternative,” explains Lizzy, our Animal Experiences team leader.

Sewers extraordinaire - volunteer coordinator Diana and volunteers Beth and Elizabeth were right on the job. After creating the perfect pouch design, both sewers and sewing machines were pushed to their outermost limits by the heavy-duty fabric.

But soon the talented trio delivered nine bespoke pouches, that in every way are proving far superior to the off-the-shelf ones. Every pouch comes complete with different pockets for different treats, a drawstring to close the pouch when not in use (to stop thieving birds!). Plus, to every team member’s delight – as well as being tailored for their individual hand sizes, their own name has been beautifully embroidered, and stars front and centre!

“Our vollies are amazing. They always go the extra mile and having our names on them is not only super practical, it also makes us feel very special,” says Lizzy.

Pouch materials used are almost all either donated and/or upcycled; curtain/upholstery fabric offcuts for the pouches and their pockets (thanks Harvey Furnishings!), elastic, old keeper belts for the pouch ‘rims’ and some of the toggles (from old pouches) for the drawstring ends.   


Lizzy training with blue and gold macaw Chico!

Animal experience team leader Lizzy engages Chico in a training session using positive reinforcement.

As a CarboNZero accredited organisation, we’re constantly working to reduce our carbon footprint, and ideas and solutions to achieve this come from many different quarters – including our wonderful volunteers.

Like you our visitors, and many Zoo staff that aren’t essential workers, our volunteers must remain safe at home during Covid lockdowns. But once it’s safe for us to open again – we look forward to welcoming them, and you, back to the Zoo – where you can get along to our fabulous daily Flight School experience and see these birds and our keepers in action!