Puy du Fou, France's second-largest theme park after Disneyland Paris, is famous for its historical shows featuring the Vikings, musketeers, horseback-riding, and sword- fighting in different historical settings. More than two million people visit the place every year, which is also famous for its performances featuring our avian friends – the falcon show and flamenco-dancing performed by birds and animals. The Puy du Fou park has now added yet another mind-blowing feather to its cap — crows picking litter, as the Agence France Presse reported.
Six rooks — birds from the Corvidae family, which also includes ravens, magpies, jackdaws, and jays — have been trained to pick up paper, cigarette butts, and any other trash unceremoniously tossed by the crowd on their visit. For dropping these leftovers in the trash box, Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, Bricole, and Baco get food as a reward.
The startling idea to use rooks to complete this unusual task came from one of the falconers, Christophe Gaborit. As part of the falconry show, he had successfully trained rooks – which are remarkably intelligent – to pick up and give roses to a 'princess' in a castle. Gaborit started training some rooks to perform a similar task — with bits of paper or cigarette butts instead of a rose, dropping them off in a little box instead of delivering them to royalty. He drew inspiration from the 'crow vending machine', invented by Josh Klein, that dispensed a peanut every time a crow picked up a coin and deposited it in the machine.
It took six months to train Boubou, Bamboo, Bill, Black, Bricole, and Baco who have been scheduled to work four days a week. Nicolas de Villiers, the park president, told AFP that more feathery creatures will be joining them shortly. As for the human cleaning staff – who are still holding on to their jobs, don't worry – they now keep a close eye on the crowd to make sure they do not add to the new team's labor in the hope of entertainment.
We don't know about you, readers, but instead of being harbingers of death, we are tempted to say that crows are rather brainy symbols of cleanliness!