Animals all over the world need something to do. They need something to keep them busy, to keep their mind thinking, and to keep them healthy. This is known as “animal enrichment.” Animals all over the globe, even wild animals, require this in their day-to-day lives. Whether it be searching for their food, playing with their littermates, or sleeping in a comfortable bed; these are all different factors that improve (or enrich) their lives. Without this, they would surely become complacent, inactive, unhealthy, and even bored. Animals in the natural environment seek out these things. So why not provide enrichment to animals under human care as well?
Who Practices Animal Enrichment?
Thankfully, animal enrichment has now become a standard in most Zoos and Aquariums throughout the world. This, along with proper diet, safe habitats, good veterinary care, and overall cleanliness, keep animals who are in an unnatural environment stimulated, active, and healthy (both mentally and physically.) But without enrichment, animals may still have issues, even if all their other needs are met. Some examples include appropriate toys for the animals, interesting smells or scents, environmental change (such as moving cage furnishings around form time to time), varying up the method of food delivery, and even formal animal training. Some may argue that formal training may even be the most important and impactful form of enrichment (for most animals).
Can my Animals Benefit from Animal Enrichment?
Common household pets, such as dogs, cats, birds, and even fish also benefit from and deserve animal enrichment. Most dog and cat owners will probably agree that their pets’ lives greatly improve via the use of toys, treats, outings, and training. More exotic pets such as birds have also shown great improvement. You can do this by providing fun toys, larger enclosures, formal training, outings, and the ability to exercise and fly.
Issues such as destructiveness, noisiness, aggression, and general unwanted behaviors, greatly lessen (more often than not) when animals are simply provided with something to keep them stimulated, busy, and content. Even animals such as fish can benefit from enrichment! Changing up their diet from time to time, mixing up the times they are fed, moving around their furnishings, or adding plants or other decorations to their tanks are a few potentially beneficial ideas. After all, even the lives of fish can become complacent or boring.
Why Animal Enrichment Matters
So what is animal enrichment, and why should we care? It is, simply put, anything we can add to the lives of zoo animals, pets, people, and more in order to change their lives in a positive way. Whether it stimulates natural behavior (like a cat chasing a toy, as if it is chasing prey), keeps their minds thinking, encourages them to exercise, allows them to have a cozy nest or bed, or simply changes up or impacts their everyday life. Additionally, there are limitless methods of enrichment, if we just use some creativity. All animals that we care for, from dogs to fish, deserve and seek out positivity in their lives. We all can strive to enrich the animals that rely on us. And in turn, they greatly enrich us because we have done so.