Enrichment

In addition to physical needs, a captive mammal has psychological needs that must be satisfied. "Enrichment" means the application of environmental stimuli in an attempt to cre-

A gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) at the Frankfurt Zoo, Germany. The gorilla's native habitiat has been reduced in size by human expansion. Survival of the species is threatened, and zoos educate their visitors about the need to protect animal environments. (Photo by Bildarchiv Okapia/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

A gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) at the Frankfurt Zoo, Germany. The gorilla's native habitiat has been reduced in size by human expansion. Survival of the species is threatened, and zoos educate their visitors about the need to protect animal environments. (Photo by Bildarchiv Okapia/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

ate psychological and physiological events that improve the overall quality of life of an animal in captivity. Enrichment helps to overcome stereotypical and undesirable behavior, as well as encourages mental and physical exercise in captive mammals. It usually involves adding novel items to an animal enclosure or providing visual or olfactory cues to a novel item. The desired behavior is curiosity or investigation, which results in mental and physical stimulation or exercise. Zookeepers benefit from developing enrichment programs for the same reasons. They stimulate themselves to rethink and reduce the stagnancy of routines. In some facilities, visitors participate in enrichment as well. Many institutions have "enrichment days" in which the public participates in making enrichment items. The safety and suitability of each item for a specific animal must always be the primary concern. For example, the Minnesota Zoo uses fir trees as enrichment tool. The animals love to investigate and move around them, and tear branches apart. Snowmen are also a popular enrichment item with many of the animals at this zoo. The bison love to bash theirs, but the gibbons aren't really sure what to do when snow shows up in their enclosure.

The types of enrichment and the applications are limitless. Some groups of mammals have been documented to have specific preferences. For example, exotic cats in captivity are drawn to spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika sprinkled in their enclosures. Perfume sprayed on surfaces in their enclosure also arouses their curiosity and excitement. For other mammals, cardboard boxes and objects that they can roll are enjoyed. Enrichment can be used to elicit "natural" behaviors in captivity as well as improve overall physical health through exercise. Food is also frequently used as an enrichment tool because it solicits the natural hunting and foraging behaviors of animals. Food with interesting textures or new flavors, and food that is hidden in hard to reach places, all make good enrichment items. Many animals love "popsi-cles," blocks of ice with food or bone inside. One of the Minnesota Zoo tigers is reported to put her popsicles into the tiger pool to make the ice melt faster.

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