Here at the Houston Zoo, our keepers are committed to providing the animals with the best care possible and part of that care involves providing the animals with enrichment!
Now, what is enrichment, you ask?
Although the animals are residing at the Zoo, they are in no way tame! They are wild animals and have natural instincts that the enrichment activities strive to encourage.
Enrichment incorporates the animal’s five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. There are different items used, each with a different desired result from the animal. The exciting thing about enrichment though, is that you never know what kind of behavior you will illicit! The process is educating and fun for the animals and zookeepers alike. One example of an enrichment activity done with our animals here at the Zoo was the introduction of iPads to our primates, which you can check out in another post!
Training is another form of enrichment. Not only do keepers train natural behaviors that are highlighted during keeper chats, they also train some behaviors to help with husbandry practices such as visual checks on the animals, weighing sessions, and vet exams. This training is a way to communicate to the animals what the keepers would like them to do.
It is our goal with this blog to teach the public about enrichment and offer you a glimpse into the efforts made to stimulate the animals mentally and physically by giving them choices in their environments.
So follow me through this series as I document enrichment activities with different species in the collection!
If you are interested in helping with the enrichment program here at the Houston Zoo, check out what your favorite animals are wishing for at Amazon.com