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A crested caracara stands on a branch.

If you’ve visited the Zoo, you’ve likely met a lot of our more than 900 animal residents. Some animals are easy to spot, but others are often not as easy to see because of their habitat set up, their personalities or their sleep cycles among other things. We wanted to start a “Meet the Animals” section of our blog to introduce you to some of the residents that you may (or may not have) met yet!

Camilla the crested caracara has lived at our Zoo since 2005 after being found with a significant wing injury. She was treated at Florida Wildlife Hospital, but the injury made it impossible for her to be returned to her natural range safely.

Camilla lives in our Wild Florida loop, in a space across from the habitat shared by our deer and turkeys. This was a fairly recent move for her. This 18-year-old bird has also developed arthritis over the years, so this habitat is easy for her to navigate. Her new area also offers her an indoor space to explore at night.

All of our animal residents receive a well-balanced diet crafted by our commissary team and designed by our veterinary team. Camilla enjoys mice, rats, chicks, quail, rabbit, fish, eggs and worms.

A crested caracara looks at the ground with torn enrichment nearbyHer intelligence keeps her animal care team on their toes! As an inquisitive bird of prey, Camilla always investigates the enrichment her keepers create for her – but she also figures things out quickly and learns from the experience!

“We have to be constantly learning to outsmart a caracara,” said Wild Florida keeper Christen Carrillo.

As ground birds, caracaras are good at digging and tearing for insects. Her keepers will give her a lot of paper and shredding enrichment. They’ve used different substrates and puzzle feeders for Camilla. One of Christen’s favorite enrichments for Camilla involved putting rabbit pelts into a cage-like metal feeder.

“Once she got the rabbit pelt out, she just was parading around her whole habitat vocalizing and throwing her head back,” Christen said.

Training keeps our animals’ minds and bodies active, while also allowing us to monitor their health without using more invasive procedures. Camilla is trained to step onto her weight scale and to shift, or move into and out of her night house. Keeper Meredith Moeggenberg is also training Camilla to go into a secure carrier.

That intelligence comes through even during training or wellness sessions with Camilla, however. Sometimes she “forgets” how to do so in order to snag a newbie keeper’s container of bugs.

“She definitely will try to play you because she is very intelligent,” Christen said. “It’s just a reminder that you just being in there is training your animal in some sort of way.”

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.