Due to the high standards of welfare afforded to the animals in our care, they can have an abundance of time which our keepers come up with inventive ways of filling!
In captivity, food and water is supplied, territory is already delineated, social groupings are usually fairly stable and structured, there are no predators to avoid, and quite often mates are selected for them. With all the extra free time, the animals have a need for new and challenging activities. That is where the role of enrichment comes in.
There are many forms of enrichment but the overall aim of Colchester Zoo’s enrichment programme is to provide a mentally and physically enriching environment specific to each species in our care.
There are 5 main categories in which enrichment can be provided, and with knowledge and a little imagination there are thousands of ways in which our keepers improve the daily lives of the animals in their care.
Food based enrichment can be as simple as leaving the fruit and vegetables whole and throwing them onto the roof so that the animals have to pull the food through the mesh. It can also be cut very small so that it can be scattered through the enclosure so that the animals have to forage through the substrate. Other methods include hiding food in boxes or paper sacks and hanging it from pulley systems and wires.
Cognitive enrichment is used to provide and enhance an animal’s mental stimulation, by creating puzzle feeder training sessions where food is hidden in a number of ways and within a number of different objects, such as those mentioned above, to make the animal think about how to access food hidden inside.
Social enrichment can also be seen alongside the flock of flamingos. Increased flock size gives flamingos confidence to breed, and due to this, a number of mirrors were constructed and put up around the lakeside/possible nesting areas. This had the positive effect of creating confidence within the birds to start mating behaviours.
A number of ways is to adapt and utilise the physical space for enrichment, including hiding food within the spaces in the enclosure, incorporating further enrichment objects to encourage natural behaviours, and developing and enhancing the space further to provide mental stimulation.
Amazon Enrichment Wish List
All purchased items from our Amazon Enrichment Wish List are delivered directly to Colchester Zoo and put to good use as exciting enrichment additions for a number of different species throughout the park!
If you would like more details on our list and how you can make a purchase please contact us directly by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, Amazon Wishlist.