of Environmental Enrichment
Enrichment is a
dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the
animalsŐ behavioral biology and natural history. Environmental changes are made
with the goal of increasing the animalŐs behavioral choices and drawing out
their species-appropriate behaviors, thus enhancing animal welfare (1999 AZA
Behavior Scientific Advisory Group).
considering animal welfare and environmental enrichment, it is critical to
remember that both are individual-based. While animal caretakers and managers
are often concerned with populations, enrichment and welfare are
not – what is beneficial to one individual may not be for another.
At The Shape of Enrichment, Inc., we feel there are some
principles that are critical to achieving successful and efficient enrichment
Enrichment plans should be holistic.
To ensure that we consider all aspects of the environment, we recognize 5 categories of enrichment: Social,
Cognitive, Physical, Sensory, and Food. These categories are not mutually
exclusive. Each category should be represented appropriately in an animalŐs
enrichment plan. Click the links below to download a chart containing examples
of each category.
Enrichment plans should be goal-driven.
Behavioral goals should
be determined to direct the enrichment strategies and schedules for an animal.
The goals may be general (e.g. increase exploration) or specific (e.g.
encourage olfactory investigation). There may be multiple goals for a given
animal, and there may be multiple enrichment strategies offered.
Enrichment plans should
be assessed both
initially and periodically throughout the year. The method of assessment may
vary but the intent is to determine if a new enrichment strategy is meeting
your behavioral goal, and if it continues to do so over time. If a new
enrichment strategy is not meeting the goal (or if it has ceased to do so over
time), modifications should be explored.
To ensure that enrichment plans are goal-oriented, tested, and assessed, we
encourage the use of a planning protocol. Several have been developed and are
in use today. For its simplicity and flexibility, we recommend the Shape
Planning Flow Chart. Click on the links below to download a copy of our
Planning Flow Chart. Another excellent method is S.P.I.D.E.R.