Environmental enrichment is the process of providing stimulating environments for Zoo animals in order for them to demonstrate their species-typical behavior, to allow them exercise control or choice over their environment, and to enhance their well-being. It often includes the introduction of objects, sounds, smells or other stimuli in the animal’s habitat. Environmental enrichment is just as critical to Zoo animal welfare as nutrition and veterinary care, and this fund allows your tax deductible gift to be used solely to benefit our animals.
Enrichment is provided in a variety of ways, such as:
Training: interaction with the keeper and proper training allows an animal to choose to participate. This is also useful in gaining the animal’s trust and allows the keeper close, visual observations of that animal.
Olfactory: a keeper can introduce natural predator or prey scents, in addition to novel smells or pheromone scents.
Auditory: taped sounds or vocalizations can simulate things that an animal may hear in the wild.
Food related: this is the most widely used form of enrichment. Keepers can present food in a variety of ways such as in a simple puzzle feeder, hidden throughout the enclosure, scattered about the enclosure, or buried. To get the food, the animal must use natural foraging behaviors and/or solve the puzzle.
Objects: various items placed in an animal’s enclosure allow the animal to mimic behaviors exhibited in the wild or could challenge them. These items could include burlap bags, sheets, boomer balls, chew toys, or a hammock.
At Cameron Park Zoo, enrichment is an important part of the care and husbandry programs provided for each species housed at our facility. Enrichment programs play an important role in the physical and psychological well being of the animals.