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Talia Avakian
August 13, 2018

Puy du Fou, the second largest theme park in France behind Disneyland Paris, is employing six rooks that are specially trained to help clean up trash. 

Rooks, which are members of the Corvidae family, like crows and ravens, are noted for their intellectual abilities. They have been trained by the park's long-time falconer, Christophe Gaborit, to learn how to collect pieces of waste.

Gaborit came up with the idea after raising two rooks back in the 2000s and discovering he was able to train the birds to collect trash in return for a treat. 

Gaborit would have the birds place a piece of waste in a double drawer that would then open up to reveal a croquette they could snack on. Eventually, they learned to associate picking up the waste with food.

While having trained rooks comes in handy for park cleanup, that's not the only perk these feathered employees can bring. 

Park president Nicolas de Villiers told AFP that under the right conditions, the birds “like to communicate with humans and establish a relationship through play.”

Following Gaborit’s method, park staff will encourage the rooks to deposit trash into a small box and reward them with a piece of food each time they are successful. 

Villiers told The Telegraph that the birds are incredibly fast workers, able to pick up enough trash to fill an entire bucket in less than 45 minutes.

The park, in Les Epesses, in western France’s Pays de la Loire region, is known for its theatrical shows portraying the history of the area with the Puy du Fou castle as a backdrop.

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