Environmental enrichment tips, tricks, and ideas: In this environmental enrichment hub, you discover all about the meaning, importance, types, implementation of concepts and plans of enrichment.

Environmental enrichment is an essential part of the daily care and routine by zookeepers. Many animals have benefits of enrichment to express their natural behaviours. When you give enrichment effectively, you will provide an environment that is required for the animal's behavioural needs. But what is environmental enrichment exactly, and why is it important? 

 

Environmental Enrichment Definition

Before we start with the definition of animal environmental enrichment, firstly, it's essential to know what the meaning is of enrichment. Purely enrichment means "the action of improving or enhancing the quality or value of something". In its fundamental primary form animal enrichment is about the improvement of the quality of the animals' lives. This definition is still a bit vague. There are more aspects of the zookeepers' daily care that improves the quality of an animal's life. Think of topics such as nutrition, exhibitry and training. The most comprehensive environmental enrichment definition is "The provision of stimuli which promote the expression of species-appropriate behavioural and mental activities in an understimulating environment." So with enrichment, you add something (stimuli) to the animals' environment. These stimuli are especially needed when an animal is living in an understimulating environment. But why is enrichment important?

Animal Environmental Enrichment 

" The provision of stimuli which promote the expression of species-appropriate behavioural and mental activities in an understimulating environment. "

(Viktor and Annie Reinhardt, 1998)

Why is enrichment important?

There are multiple reasons on why to implement enrichment in the daily lives of animals. Enrichment can have various goals. A considerable complete list of why you need to enrich to is:

  • Increase behavioural diversity
  • Reduce the frequencies of abnormal behaviour
  • Increase the range of normal (i.e. wild) behaviour patterns
  • Increase the positive utilization of the environment
  • Increase the ability to cope with challenges in a more normal way

It is essential to set some goals what you want to achieve with the enrichment. It is also useful to determine which animals have the most profit from enrichment. There are guidelines to assess each animals' behavioural needs. 

 

Assessing enrichment success

To find out if your enrichment is effective or not, it is crucial to evaluate and assess your enrichment regularly. There are many ways to track your enrichment initiatives. When the enrichment is not meeting the stated goals, it is essential to readjust the enrichment to keep its enriching effectiveness.

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