MILWAUKEE, WI – On Saturday, June 11, visitors have the unique opportunity to see firsthand how zookeepers provide a healthy and enriching environment for many of our 3,000+ animals during Animal Enrichment Day, sponsored by Whole Foods Market. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums defines animal enrichment as, “a dynamic process for enhancing animal environments within the context of the animals’ behavioral biology and natural history.” For animal care staff at the Milwaukee County Zoo, this translates into finding unique and safe ways to encourage animals to show their natural behaviors; keeping their minds active and healthy, and ultimately enhancing their overall welfare. A variety of enrichment stations will be located in the Zoo’s pachyderm mall, displaying and explaining the five different types of enrichment, and how the keepers use these techniques to keep the animals active and healthy.
The five types of enrichment used at the Milwaukee County Zoo include:
Environmental: Includes the enhancement of, or alteration to, an animal’s habitat with the goal of adding complexity to its environment.
Foods/Feeding: Includes extending feeding time, making feeding time challenging and promoting natural feeding strategies.
Manipulative: Includes providing animals with items that can be manipulated in some way, using its paws, hands, head, feet, horns or mouth for exploratory play.
Sensory: Includes all of an animals’ senses (visual, smell, hearing, taste and touch) to stimulate natural behaviors.
Social/Behavioral: Includes the use of animals’ natural history to create social groupings observed in the wild, which facilitates feeding, grooming and courtship behaviors.
Also, many zookeeper chats will be presented throughout the day, in the different animal areas, showing a variety of the items used for enrichment. Some of the animals that will be featured include: grizzly bears, snow leopards, snakes, siamangs, Humboldt penguins and red-ruffed lemurs, to mention a few.
Activities visitors can join in include: foraging like an orangutan (search for a treat in a tub of shredded material), stimulating senses with a scent game (guess the scent in containers which are used to stimulate the big cats), experiencing a Zoo exhibit like an animal, seeing the various training tools used by keepers, and watching a video of our different training techniques. Guests can purchase enrichment items from Otto Environmental, or make a donation for items to be purchased at a later time by the zookeepers. Offerings will also include enrichment toys for sale for your own pets!
Join us for this unique special event at the Zoo – activities are free with regular Zoo admission. For more information, contact the Zoo at 414.256.5411.