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Environmental enrichment, also known as behavioural enrichment, provides species-appropriate challenges, opportunities and stimulation. Environmental enrichment includes the regular provision of dynamic environments, cognitive challenges and social opportunities.
An enriched environment should promote a range of normal behaviours that animals find rewarding as well as allowing animals to positively respond to potential stressors. For example opportunities to hide or climb away from visitors or more dominant co-specifics.

Why is Enrichment Good?

Animals that have good mental health will engage with their environment more, be less aggressive, fearful and are more peaceful, exploratory and at ease with their surroundings. Enrichment can support this positive mental welfare and encourages natural behaviours in captive animals.

What is Enrichment Not?

Enrichment is not a substitute for poor enclosure design, a poor diet, lack of health care or any other poor management activities.  While it is an important aspect of positive animal welfare, it alone can not compensate for sub-standard care that results in poor welfare. 

How can Enrichment Help?



enrichment is about creating choices for animals so they feel more in control of their environment.



While some enrichment requires regular changes, other forms, such as simply providing a species appropriate environment can stay the same. Either way, a variety is important to prevent boredom and frustration. 


enrichment is increasing the complexity of the environment that is meaningful to the animal’s genetic & behavioural needs, is species relevant and addresses specific species needs.

Providing enrichment can enhance the zoo environment for an animal, encouraging them to explore & interact with their surroundings. Enrichment also enhances the visitor experience as the animals show more natural behaviours and are much more active.

Enrichment for the animals also enhances the visitor experience as the animals show more natural behaviours and are much more active.

The goal of any enrichment programme should be to development ideas that will provide a species appropriate stimulating environment that promotes positive behaviours, remembering that both species and individuals will have different needs.

We will be adding Enrichment ideas and suggestions to this page, sometimes taken from positive enrichment actions that have been put in place from our work (hence some blurry images!), showing that even facilities with very limited resources and time can apply enrichment activities that promote improved animal welfare.  Also thank you to Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) for their contributions.

Take a look at Hose2Habitat’s website for useful ideas on how to create enriching environments for animals using hoses 

Take a Look at our Bear Enrichment Portfolio

Download Here

Infrastructure & Manipulative Enrichment

About positive interactions with the environment

Olfactory Enrichment, Gustatory Enrichment

About Smells, About Taste

Exploratory Enrichment

About Changes Within the Environment

Some Rules of Enrichment!

Always consider the safety of the animals and keeping staff before embarking on an enrichment programme

  • When first introducing new enrichment to an enclosure, make sure it is done slowly to avoid fights or nervousness.
  • Consideration must be given to the age of the animal. Consider enrichment that accommodates age appropriate needs and considers individual needs too
  • Consideration must also be given to social groupings and hierarchy. Careful observation can ensure enrichment is given or removed at appropriate times.
  • Be careful when choosing novel foods for enrichment. Dietary enrichment consisting of inappropriate elephant food can lead to tooth decay, obesity, allergic reactions, impaction, diarrhoea, choking or aggression from others.
  • Always observe new enrichment objects when being used. Objects, if broken, can produce sharp edges that can cut animals
  • Plants or parts of plants may be toxic to animals. Prior treatment of plants with pesticides or fire retardant chemicals can be toxic – thus all plants must be assessed for natural or mad-made toxicity
  • Be Safe! Adding enrichment (items) may put a keeper in a compromised situation if the appropriate due diligence isn’t followed. Ensuring the safety for both staff and animals is paramount.
  • Provide enough enrichment – Avoid aggression or injuries by providing enough enrichment for all the animals in the herd.
  • Parasites may be transmitted through food – all foods must be assessed for likely parasitic activity
  • Animals should have daily, weekly, monthly and even annual enrichment schedules. Enrichment should be planned and documented so that activities can be continually enhanced and improved

Talk to us about developing an enrichment plan today

Contact us for help to develop enrichment at your zoo that’s good for the animals and interesting for the visitors too!

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