At Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, the health and happiness of our animals is top priority. The animal care staff goes to great lengths to better the welfare of our animals— which includes animal enrichment.

What is enrichment?

The best way to explain enrichment is through its acronym: E.N.R.I.C.H (Encouraging Natural Responses In Captive Habitats).

Enrichment is the process of creating a challenging environment to address an animal’s social, psychological and physical needs. Enrichment activities aim to enhance the animal’s life by creating mental stimulation— this encourages the animals to engage in natural, species-specific behaviors (like foraging, digging and exploring).

At AWSFZ, we utilize different forms of enrichment, such as:

Sensory

This form of enrichment stimulates all the animals’ senses— visual, olfactory (smells), auditory (hearing), taste and tactile (touch)

Food and Feeding-Based

Food and feeding based enrichment is the keepers’ opportunity to make feeding time challenging and fun for the animals. A variety of task-oriented puzzle feeders and different methods of presentation encourage animals to think and work for their food, as they would in the wild

Toys and Manipulative

For this enrichment type, items are given to the animals that can be manipulated in some way via hands, mouth, legs, horns, or head simply for investigation and exploratory play

Environmental

This category enables keepers to enhance the animals’ zoo habitat with opportunities that change or add complexity to their environment. This is accomplished through a variety of novel substrates, swings, climbing structures, hiding places, etc.

Social and Behavioral

Social interactions in the form of training and structured play builds trust and rapport between keeper and animal. Opportunities to interact with other animals also stimulate beneficial natural behaviors and instinct

Because enrichment is such a vital part of everyday zoo life, keepers dedicate hours of their time each day to ensure animals are getting enrichment that is creative and unique. Of course enrichment is great for the animals, but it’s fun for the zoo staff, too!

Now let’s see some enrichment in action! Can you tell which category of enrichment the animals are receiving in the pictures and video below?