Why is there a mop in with the Saki's?  Because it is ENRICHMENT!

Animal enrichment is a way for keepers to encourage natural and healthy behaviors in our animals by providing a variety of mental and physical stimulation. In a zoo setting, it is very important to have enriching activities for the animals. In nature animals spend a majority of their day finding food and shelter. Captive animals are given the luxury of a readily supply of food and a safe enclosure. While this is less stress on the animal, it also gives them a lot of free time. Enrichment allows animals to have behavioral choices and helps relieve boredom. Enrichment also allows animals to use their natural behaviors, such as playing, exploring, digging, scenting, foraging and so on.

How do we enrich our animals?
We choose items and activities that are safe and appropriate for each animal. For example, in the wild chimpanzees' will 'fish' for termites, at JBZ's chimp exhibit there are mound feeders that we fill every morning with a special treat (mostly fruit juice, but sometimes its spiced water, pickle juice or mustard). Just like in the wild, the chimps must figure out a way to get the treats out of the feeder.

There are many different forms of enrichment and not all are easily noticeable. Have you ever seen our female bear rubbing on a log? It may be because we hid some spices on exhibit earlier in the day. Scents are a great way to have animals use their noses to track down the source of the smell. Spices, herbs, extracts, perfumes, and hunting lures (like doe urine) are often used.

How can you participate with enrichment?
Try coming up with some enrichment ideas for your pets at home (please make sure it is safe for your critters first).

Or help enrich your zoo friends by donating unopened and non-expired spices, perfumes, and extracts.



About Shannon King

author photo

Shannon has been a John Ball Zookeeper for four years, but she was taking care of the stingrays and sharks for a few years before.   


view full bio


#1 Vickie Mukans said:

Gotta love enrichment! Are there cheerios on that mop head? He looks very interested :) Go enrichment committee!

#2 Sunny Sjaarda said:

Seems the volunteers had a great time when we did the enrichment workshop. So it's good for the animals and the volunteers. It's fun to watch the animals w/their enrichment items. I'm sure the visitors can see the value in it. That is also a good visual for the visitors. So it's good all around. Keep up the good work.

#3 Tim O'Donnell said:

Hi Shannon, great article. Sharing the different enrichments with us will give us a chance to watch for them. This is the kind on information that we can share with the public. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

Leave a Comment