53 minutes ago
It's National Zoo Keeper Week and I want to discuss one of my biggest passions: Behavioral Husbandry. BH focuses on the mental well-being of animals through environmental enrichment and operant conditioning. Using both of these components, keepers can promote species specific behaviors that animals would display in the wild, while also creating a positive environment where they can choose to partake in their own care
Behavioral Husbandry - Part One: Environmental Enrichment
By providing enrichment, keepers work towards meeting an individual animal's physical and psychological needs while allowing them to make choices in their environment. In the wild, animals have to find their own food, make their own home, and defend resources, all while avoiding predation! However, Zoos and Keepers take care of these basic needs for them, so we have to be creative to find ways to promote natural behaviors and add complexity to an animal's day
No matter how small or large, feathery or hairy, scaley or slimey, each of our animals in the Animal Ambassador department are enriched daily. Working with such a wide variety of animals keeps us on our toes! To create effective, appropriate, and safe enrichment, we must know not only the natural history of each of our animals, but also their individual personal histories. It's a lot of histories when you work with over 70 individual animals!
So, whether it's a scorpion hiding in a cardboard tube, a serval taking a cat nap in a box, a Savannah monitor exploring a scented bag, an armadillo forging for bugs in sand, or an animal artist making a painting there's something for everyone
Side note: if you visit a zoo and don't immediately see enrichment in an animal enclosure, don't assume that means they aren't being enriched. Many times, enrichment is designed to be natural looking or might be a built in component in the enclosure. Keepers love talking about how they enrich their animals, so if you ever have a question, don't assume, just ask! 😁
nationalzookeeperweek zookeeper zoolife centralfloridazoo enrichment behavioralhusbandry animalwelfare