Have you ever been to the zoo and thought ‘why do the elephants have barrels hung up high in their enclosure’, or ‘why are there paper mache piñatas in the primate houses’? These items are called enrichment.
So what is enrichment?
Enrichment increases our animals’ physical and mental activity levels, and encourages natural behaviours such as foraging. Enrichment is also a great way to offer our animals choice and novelty by exciting their five senses.
We spend a lot of time being creative and coming up with new ways to enrich our animals, but more often than not the tried and tested enrichment is always the most popular with our animals! Our monkeys love piñatas filled with straw and food, the leopards enjoy new and interesting scent trails in their exhibit (where we go into their enclosure while they are indoors and we rub something nice and smelly around the branches and rocks), and the elephants love the big barrels that are hung up high as these are filled with some of their favourite foods. The elephants have to reach up high with their trunks to knock the food out!
Items such as the elephants’ barrels and the monkeys’ piñata feeders are given to the animals on a rotation to make sure they are always given new and different enrichment to keep them challenged and stimulated.
Next time you are at the zoo, see if you can spot some of the enrichment items hiding in the animals’ enclosures. We also give our animals themed enrichment for holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas.
Do you love seeing the various enrichment activities we do with our animals? Now you can get involved too as we have our very own Amazon Wish List account. Take a look at some of the items you can purchase here that will then be donated to us to use as enrichment for a huge variety of our animals.