Animal Enrichment Process
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
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
- Team meets to review gathered information.
(Plan is developed based on identified natural behaviors to be encouraged
- 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
- 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.)
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: