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
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.
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
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.