EnrichBits: A monthly look at animal enrichment
Enrichment is all about providing opportunities to our animals that help them to exhibit their natural behaviors. Opossums wouldn’t find many recycle bins to snooze in out in the wild ( well, at least not many bins they’d be welcome in!) but they would find a similar shaped place, like a hollow tree stump, that was a sheltered and hidden nook. Bears wouldn’t be flipping over traffic cones looking for bear chow in a natural setting, but they would be flipping over logs looking for grubs.
So it’s our goal for animals who live in groups, herds, etc in a natural setting, to live in those types of groups here at the museum. This is part of Social Enrichment. Housing animals in social groups is sometimes essential to their overall health and well being. When you see one of our red-ruffed lemurs grooming another, you are witnessing a natural behavior that couldn’t happen if they lived alone. Social enrichment is so important that we even pair up different species of animals so they have a living mate! Of course we have to seriously consider all the risks involved, like disease transmission or incompatibility. Can you think of an example of two different species who live together here at the museum?