Environmental enrichment is a technique often used by Zoos worldwide. It entails the provision of different stimuli to encourage natural behaviour and greater activity in captive animals.
Environmental enrichment is a very useful practice to increase animal wellbeing and reduce incidents of stereotyped behaviour. It has a number of implications: in addition to playing a key role in conservation, environmental enrichment plays an important educational role, offering visitors a suitable environment in which to observe animal behaviour.
The technique mainly concerns the type of enclosure fittings, such as the presence of specific objects that increase the environment’s complexity and provide animals with a number of visual, olfactory and tactile stimuli to encourage the development of a more natural behaviour. For example, hiding seeds and other food under the hay in the cage or in various tanks or containers encourages animals to spend many hours of the day searching, just as they would in the wild.
Environmental enrichment varies from one species to another and the Bioparco’s zoological staff has developed programmes that take into account the specific background of each animal.