Clyde playing with his ball. Grrr, crush the ball!
Tut, dunking a water bucket. He's eyes say "This is my bucket, stay away!
Savanna playing stick. She likes to break them into little pieces.
Why do enrichment? Environmental enrichment creates stimulating enclosures for captive animals, which encourages them to demonstrate species-typical behavior. It also enhances their over all well-being. Enrichment activities are designed to challenge and stimulate the animals and is a critical part in keeping captive animals active, engaged and healthy.
Different types of enrichment are:
1. Enclosure design:Different substrates (i.e. bark, mulch, trees or pools) give animals a variety of different feels and provides things to dig in or scratch on.
2. Training:Interaction with keepers allow animals' to choose to become engaged. The keepers also win the animals trust. Having their trust helps if an animal is in need for care and must be handled by trained keepers.
3. Smell:Keepers introduce natural predator/prey scents, in addition to essential oils or pheromones in enclosures.
4. Sound:Taped sounds or vocalizations can stimulate different behaviors.
5. Variety of Food:This is the most commonly used form of enrichment for zoos and here at the facility. Food hidden in enclosures entices animals to use other senses to explore, problem solve and forage.
6. Toys:New objects introduced in enclosures allow animals to play and challenge them to problem solve. Toys, such as balls, bags, frozen blocks of meat and old articles of clothing, bring out animal's natural curiosity.
What type of enrichment are we doing?
We are always trying new enrichment ideas, from spice balls to frozen blood balls. We like to change things up as much as the animals do. The smalls cats enjoy tug ropes and ripped up t-shirts dipped in elk's blood, paprika, parsley and cinnamon. Our binturong, Chip, enjoys fresh bananas and climbing up the tree stumps in his enclosure to hunt for hidden treats. Our leopards and mountain lions like playing with cardboard carpet rolls that have been stuffed with chicken.
If you would like some ideas on what types of toys the small and large cats can play with, check out this great web site: http://www.sanctuarysupplies.com. If you see something that catches your attention, order it and bring it with you to the facility. Our keepers are always happy to give a cat a fun new toy while you watch.
Clyde, also pictured above, grooms himself after a fun day of romping with his ball. Come and meet him in person!