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Animal Enrichment Day

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jaguar enrichment

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums defines animal enrichment as, “a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animals’ behavioral biology and natural history.” For animal care staff at the Milwaukee County Zoo, this translates into finding unique and safe ways to encourage animals to show their natural behaviors; thus keeping their minds active and healthy, and ultimately enhancing their overall welfare. On Saturday, June 13, visitors can see firsthand how the zookeepers provide enrichment for many of our 3,000+ animals in our care during Animal Enrichment Day, taking place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A variety of enrichment stations will be located in the Zoo’s pachyderm mall, displaying and explaining the five different types of enrichment, and how the zookeepers use these techniques to keep the animals active and healthy.

The five types of enrichment used at the Milwaukee County Zoo include:

  • Environmental: Includes the enhancement of, or alteration to, an animal’s habitat with the goal of adding complexity to its environment.
  • Foods/Feeding: Includes extending feeding time, making feeding time challenging and promoting natural feeding strategies.
  • Jaguar enrichmentManipulative: Includes providing animals with items that can be manipulated in some way, using its paws, hands, head, feet, horns or mouth for exploratory play.
  • Sensory: Includes all of an animals’ senses (visual, smell, hearing, taste and touch) to stimulate natural behaviors.
  • Social/Behavioral: Includes the use of animals’ natural history to create social groupings observed in the wild, which facilitates feeding, grooming and courtship behaviors.

Also, a variety of zookeeper chats will be presented throughout the day, in the different animal areas, showing a variety of the items used for enrichment. Some of the animals that will be featured include: grizzly bears, rhinos, tree kangaroos, red river hogs, Gentoo penguins and harbor seals, to mention a few.

Polar bear enrichmentAdditional activities include giving visitors opportunities to: forage like an orangutan (search for a treat in a tub of shredded material), stimulate senses with a scent game (guess the scent in containers which are used to stimulate the big cats), experience a Zoo exhibit like an animal, see the various training tools used by keepers, and watch a video of our different training techniques. During the activities, visitors can also purchase enrichment items from our Amazon Wish List, or make a donation for items to be purchased at a later time by the zookeepers.

Join us for this unique special event at the Zoo – activities are free with regular Zoo admission. For more information, contact the Zoo at 414.771.3040.