Zookeepers don't just toss an object towards an animal in hopes that fun will ensue. Instead, a customized plan is drawn up for each animal, taking into account its natural history (habitat, social structure, diet in the wild), individual history (age, health, disposition) and exhibit features (dimensions, substrate). The Zoo's enrichment committee brings animal care, veterinary, and research staff together to devise, approve, implement, document and evaluate each plan. Zoo scientists make sure enrichment plans deliver the intended benefits.
Goal: To encourage natural behaviors and discourage abnormal behaviors in the animal's exhibit and holding areas through enrichment by considering the animal's natural history, individual history, and exhibit considerations.
- Identify animal species for enrichment plan.
(Can also be used for individual animal or an entire order)
- Assemble enrichment plan team.
(Assign roles to get natural history, exhibit information, and individual animal's history.)
- Team meets to review gathered information.
(Plan is developed based on identified natural behaviors to be encouraged or discouraged.)
- Plan is submitted to Animal Management group for approval.
(Animal Management group is made up of supervisory, veterinary and research staff to review plans and approve or recommend changes.)
- All approved enrichment techniques that fulfill plan are collected and categorized by identified behaviors.
(Creates an enrichment menu of ideas for Keepers.)
- Plan is put into action by Keepers.
(Keepers choose from approved ideas to provide varied enrichment.)
- Enrichment is documented through enrichment calendars.
(Calendars are a basic documentation tool for Keeper, Manager, and Curator reference.)
- More intensive documentation can be coordinated through Research Department, especially concerning abnormal behaviors.
(Used to evaluate and measure results.)
- Readjust plan if needed.
(Based on analysis of documentation.)
The Zoo's enrichment team uses a three-part questionnaire to examine the species, the exhibit and the individual animal:
Zookeepers prepare enrichment calendars such as this sample calendar. The calendars are daily records of intended results, enrichment offered, and actual results.
Look over some approved plans currently in use at this Zoo: