There’s a post going around that advocates giving clowns only real helium balloons. I’m not going to link to that post, because I don’t want the OP getting any hate. The balloon misconception is SUCH a common one I don’t think any one of us can say we didn’t fall prey to it at one point or another. But, the fact of the matter is, helium balloons are not good enrichment for clowns.
Firstly, they’re not sustainable. Helium is a rapidly depleting resource. Secondly, clowns like balloons because they mistake them for their eggs. A clown bouncing a balloon around on a string is taking care of its ‘baby.’ Clown eggs are brightly colored spheres that float around at shoulder-height, if healthy, and are transported by the parent by means of a filament. Balloons mimic these incredibly well. That is why clowns find balloons on the ground so distressing - a downed egg contains a sick embryo. The despair they experience when one floats away is that of child loss, and I’m sure you can imagine why they’re so distressed when one pops. That’s why malevolent breeds are predisposed to the act!
All balloons “die”. They cannot hatch. Every experience a clown has with a balloon, however happy at the outset, ends in tragedy. They are not good enrichment items, no matter how busy they keep a clown.
So what are some alternatives? If you have two or more clowns of any social breed, then toys like custard pies, water squirters, and air horns make excellent entertainment. Note: Most common breeds are social. If you are keeping a social breed singularly, you MUST play with it for several hours a day at the bare minimum. While these breeds tend to adore balloons the most, the repeat psychological trauma they suffer because of them is not worth the easy out.
If you keep a breed that prefers a solitary existence, they will get the most out of things like juggling supplies and balance balls. Make sure they have a safe space to play with these in when you aren’t home to supervise.
All breeds need human interaction. A few times a week you need to show your clown you appreciate it - that’s the best enrichment of all. Remember that some methods of training result in ‘unusual’ reactions to the four quadrants - most commonly, +P will become “rewarding” - and some performance breeds innately make that connection, so research the right way to reward your clown.
On a final note, DO NOT GIVE MIMES BALLOONS. Look on any mime forum and you’ll see countless threads with titles like “Help! My mime won’t play with toys!” Yeah, dipshit, THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND TOYS. All members of the mime group are highly specialized working breeds geared towards imagination play. They are very intelligent, deeply driven to perform their unique rituals, and not much else. They need to do their original job to be happy. They need to put on shows. If you cannot provide the stimulation of a fully public performance at least once a week for your mime, and cannot provide regular training sessions, either, do not get a mime. Consider a fool instead. A lot of people brush off fools as beginner breeds, too rambunctious and talkative, but there’s a reason they were preferred by royalty for centuries. They’re actually very versatile and eager to please! They do love tumbling and have a knack for mimicking human speech, but will happily learn the same tricks as a mime. They’re also content to live singularly and enjoy practicing in private quite a lot, making them rather compatible with modern life. Their larger cousins, the jesters, can also learn mime routines, but keep in mind that they are more willful! The sinister jester is a near dupe for the creepy mime, a popular breed, but they’re not a great choice for a total novice. Remember, they contributed heavily to the makeup of the scary clowns. (o:
Both fools and jesters will prefer to have physical props to play with in their off-time even if they’re trained to perform without them.