- Zoo & Raptor Center
WHAT IS ENRICHMENT?
Behavioral enrichment aims to enhance the lives of animals living in captivity by encouraging natural, species specific behavior by providing them with stimuli.
Our Enrichment Program
The Great Bend - Brit Spaugh Zoo's enrichment program provides physically and mentally stimulating toys, activities and environments for all the Zoo’s animals. Enrichment allows animals to demonstrate their species-specific behavior, gives them opportunity to exercise control or choice over their environment and enhances their well-being. Enrichment is just as essential to animal welfare as proper nutrition and veterinary care.
There are many types of enrichment and it often falls into one or more of the following categories:
Keepers can manipulate multiple aspects of the animals’ environment, such as adding trees, vines and perching, changing substrates, moving "furniture", or providing new bedding and den options. This adds novelty and complexity to the animals’ lives.
Positive reinforcement training sessions are excellent cognitive enrichment; it gives the animals a chance to exercise their minds.
A keeper can introduce natural predator or prey scents, in addition to novel smells, such as spices or diluted perfumes. Taped sounds or vocalizations can simulate things that an animal may hear in the wild.
This is the most widely used form of enrichment. Keepers can present an animal’s normal diet as well as new food items in a variety of ways such as in a puzzle feeder, hidden, buried or scattered throughout the enclosure, or in frozen ice treats. It is important for the Zoo’s animals to work for their food, just as their wild counterparts do.
These items can include burlap bags, sheets, boomer balls, chew toys or hammocks. Often, novel objects will be combined with food-related enrichment.