EnrichBits: A monthly look at animal enrichment
As you probably already know by now if you are a regular reader, enrichment is all about giving our captive animals the opporunities to exhibit their natural behaviors.
Well, on a 95 degree afternoon, the natural behavior for a lot of our outdoor animals is to find a cool shady spot and sleep. These are afternoons where there is no interest in new scents, none of the animals seem to want to explore or play with new toys, dig through mulch or forage for food. Basically, they just want the same thing you and I do– to stay cool.
Exhibit design becomes a really important part of giving animals choices on these hot days. All the farmyard animals can choose to stay in their shady, fan filled stalls. The bears have the options of cooling off under the waterfall or in their pool, or sleeping along the shaded back rock wall of their exhibit. The lemurs often will choose to tuck themselves away under the cooler boulders in their yard, or under their shade structure.
During the summer our use of ice as enrichment really increases. We freeze water in buckets, in ice cube trays, and in large trash cans and balloons to create many shapes and sizes and even flavors of ice.