is the process of creating a challenging environment to address
an animal's social, psychological and physical needs. Enrichment
aims to enhance animal activity, provide mental stimulation and
even improve the success of captive breeding of endangered species.
lion toys with a "zebra" stuffed with some specially prepared
ground meat, but it is much more than a game. The papier mâché
piñata is a carefully crafted device used by zookeepers
to provide a stimulating environment and elicit natural behaviors
from the Zoo's wild residents.
treats are part of an animal enrichment program designed to provide
the best possible care for the Zoo's animals all year long. A
committee of curators, animal keepers and veterinarians developed
the program and continue to implement new ideas.
an animal's natural behavior and physiology is important to an
enrichment program. The program guides the care of each animal
through consideration of many factors including exhibit space,
location of rest and food areas, climbing structures, animal group
size, and diet. Creative meals and treats - all approved by Zoo
veterinarians - are a regular part of animal enrichment.
Enrichment doesn't have to be edible. For example, huge brushes
(like the kind used on city street sweepers) are hung high inside
the elephant enclosures. In the wild, elephants use trees or termite
mounds to scratch itches but the Zoo's elephants get the same
effect sidling up to a brush.
each day, the zookeepers conduct elephant training sessions to
bathe, examine and bond with Jo, Moshi and Martika. Training is
definitely part of an enrichment program because the animals have
to think, solve problems and communicate with their "herd," just
as they would in the wild. Learning voice commands, special activities
like painting (yes, our pachyderms are budding Picassos) and routine
health care provide variety and challenges to each day, warding
Many wild animals depend on an excellent sense of smell to sniff
out prey, avoid predators or locate food and water. An olfactory
workout isn't necessary for survival at the Zoo but zookeepers
use scent to elicit natural behaviors from many species. Wolves,
bears and tigers will investigate spices and squirts of perfume
spritzed in their exhibits. Lions perk up to the scent of urine
or dung from zebras and other "prey" animals. And the Zoo's rhinos
will use their horns to bat cardboard tubes loaded with spices
around their outdoor yard.
Even the minimally active two-toed sloth (why do you think they
call them sloths?) exhibits exploratory behavior in the wild.
Providing movable perching in the sloth exhibit will encourage