Building enrichment for ambassador animals
My time as an intern at Zoo Atlanta has been an amazing experience. One of my favorite things that I have learned about is enrichment. Enrichment can be defined as anything that promotes an animal’s natural behaviors. It is mentally and physically stimulating for the animal, and aims to use all or any of the five senses: visual, tactile, auditory, olfactory or taste. Enrichment can be anything from a sprinkle of cinnamon to a more complicated jungle ball with food inside of it.
I think enrichment is so awesome because it’s exciting for the animals and for the animal care team as well. We have the opportunity to observe an animal interacting with a fun object, while the animal’s mind and body is working toward either developing a new behavior or practicing a known one. One of my favorite experiences that I was able to participate in was the Owens Corning firehose workshop. Owens Corning works with Hose 2 Habitat, and they came to the Zoo to show us how to make enrichment using firehose. There were a lot of different options to choose from, ranging from simple cubes to complex lanyards of firehose. My fellow interns and I decided to make a “sausage” as it’s called. Food can be placed inside of it, or just the item by itself is great enrichment.
I think enrichment is so important for all animals at the Zoo, and it is definitely important in my area, the petting zoo. This is because it not only gives the goats, sheep and pigs an opportunity to show off their different behaviors, but it also gives us an opportunity to share with guests about enrichment.
Ambassador Animals Intern
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