A Need For Appropriate Challenge In Environmental Enrichment

Imagine a life without challenges: every day the same routine, without any new experience, new information, same food prepared in the same way. A life without opportunities or problems for you to overcome. Such a life would be rather dull and boring, lacking the satisfaction of personal development and growth. Could this also be the case for animals? Animals living in the wild have to face many challenges. Think of predation, social competition or finding a partner to produce offspring. Also, the environment itself set many challenges for the animals: weather, illness, and food and water availability. On the contrary, animals in captivity often live in an environment which is simple, predictable and monotonous. Challenges are limited and infrequently or not present at all. You might expect that it is relaxed for the animal and that it can enjoy its life. But is it? Might animals suffer from a lack of challenge in their life? In this article, I want to accentuate the importance of 'appropriate' challenge in environmental enrichment. 

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The Junk Of People Can Be The Recycled Enrichment For Animals

As zoos, sanctuaries and wildlife facilities, we have an essential role when it comes to educating about sustainability and care for nature. To play this role, we need to take the ultimate care and responsibility for the animals, where behavioural management and behavioural husbandry is a vital cornerstone. We can combine these two when we use old and used materials and convert them into enrichment items to stimulate the natural behaviours of animals we care for. When we do do not care for cosmetic designs, there opens a whole new world for enriching possibilities. Let us take a deeper dive into the potential of recycled enrichment.

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6 Calendar Strategies For Enrichment Variation

Animals have a natural need for novelty and variation. They have a certain behavioural need to explore their environment and the need for challenges in their lives. However, animals will habituate to novelty when there is no or little variation in it. Eventually, they know how it works, what there will come, and what to expect from the environment and routine. We often talked already about the need for variation in enrichment programs and the need for many different enrichment devices. But variety also needs to be created with the implementation. At home, with your own pet animal, you know exactly what you gave your animal on enrichment. But even then it can be wise to track your enrichment effort. However, when you care for animals in zoos or other facilities with multiple animals, mostly with more caretakers then only yourself, it is crucial to track the enrichment given to ensure a level of variation and record the progress of the enrichment program. So, let's have a dive into 6 calendar strategies to ensure enrichment variation. 

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Better Understanding Of Social Enrichment And Enriching Social Groups

It is best practice in zoos to keep animals in their natural social groups as far as possible. Social groups stimulate many important behaviours for good animal welfare. But it is not always possible to keep the complete natural social structure of groups of animals in captivity, due to lack of space or availability of animals. Social enrichment is an exciting way to stimulate these social behaviours, especially when social structures are not the same as their wild conspecifics. Social enrichment is often an underused category of the enrichment repertoire, as seen in the study of Hoy, Murray and Tribe, 2010. Nevertheless, it is valued as very important in the same survey. So let's have a closer look at social enrichment and enriching social groups of animals. 

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