EnrichBits: A monthly look at animal enrichment
So I’ve tried to explain a lot of the categories of a full enrichment program (if you click the EnrichBits link on the side bar, you can read them), but we haven’t talked about olfactory or visual enrichment yet. Our animals need interesting things to look at and unusual scents that may encourage exploration!
For interesting visual stuff, we use windsocks, shimmering wind twirly things (yes, that’s their official name), and other objects that are triggered by wind or a fan. Using different colored and shaped toys also has a visual impact. We also use mirrors, and even let animals who don’t usually see each other have some time (through a barrier) to be exposed to each other– but only if it causes no stress to either party.
For olfactory enrichment, we use a wide variety of scents, spices, hunting lures, museum animal hair, extracts, even perfume! Cinnamon, buck urine, Listerine, sheep wool, vanilla, and parsley flakes are all part of our collection! You can dab the scent around the animal’s exhibit, or on a toy. There are three rules around applying scent enrichment. One: don’t use the same one every time; variety is good. Two: don’t use a predator scent on a prey animal (fox urine scent in her exhibit could really stress out our woodchuck!) Three: you just need one teeny little dab—almost all of our animals have a much, much better sense of smell than ours!