Enrichment is used to encourage natural behaviour in animals in captivity and to provide stimulation within their enclosure.
Methods for enrichment can be varied: being incorporated into enclosure design (e.g. climbing apparatus for primates), food related (e.g. puzzle feeders), designed to stimulate an animal’s senses (e.g. scent trails), or provided for through correct social grouping of animals.
Much enrichment is aimed towards encouraging appropriate feeding and foraging behaviours, discouraging stereotypic behaviour and preventing self injury. Its use should lead to a positive outcome such as improved or enhanced welfare.
Many animals can be enriched. Primates respond well to food related enrichment and of course benefit from enclosures designed for their locomotion. Predators can be enriched by different food items and can respond well to scents.
Enrichment is recognised as a growing scientific field and both researchers and animal keepers create devices, but most importantly, are dedicated in monitoring their implementation.
Enrichment podcast featuring Nick Davis