Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM


Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.


Enrichment for Captive Wildlife

No description

Ann Wookey

on 10 July 2016

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of Enrichment for Captive Wildlife

Enrichment for
Ambassador Animals

By Ann Wookey
Ohio Wildlife Center
OWRA Conference 2015


Enrichment is:

"The alteration of an animals physical environment and/or care with reference to biology, natural history, psychology, and specific history of that animal in order to provide additional opportunity and ability to participate in more natural behaviors" (NWRA Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Vol. 25, No. 2, Fall 2007, page 25.)

Enrichment can include, but is not limited to, "toys"; novel scents, sounds, tastes, and textures; developing better enclosures (perches, substrate, lighting, nesting areas, climate gradients etc.); different feeding strategies; and training.

Some animals need to be able to do certain natural behaviors even if they do not require the outcome (Behavioral Needs Hypothesis). Example: Some birds will build their own nest even if they are given an exact replica of the nest they are building. Enrichment can provide animals the opportunity to preform these natural behaviors.

Enrichment should be considered part of standard good husbandry practices for all animals in our care.
5 Enrichment Categories
(Items in these categories may overlap and are not mutually exclusive)

Other animals, people, objects (i.e. mirror, painting session, stuffed animal, visitors, training session)

Mental stimulation (puzzle feeders, training a new behavior)
Novel experience (new food, new scent, new enclosure etc)

Physical Habitat:
Perching and climbing structures, substrates, nests, dens, climate gradients, water sources, mud holes, vegetation, hiding places etc

Tactile, olfactory, tastes, auditory, visual

New item or new way of presenting food (ice blocks, scattered, whole, cut in small pieces, hidden, buried, put in puzzle feeder etc)
2011, Shape of Enrichment, Inc.
What does Contra Freeloading mean?

Contra means against. Freeloading means giving the animal all their food i.e. in a dish. It means "against free feeding" or in other words "working for food".

It is based on the idea that animals have an "apparent behavioral need" to forage for and work for their food. In the wild, finding food is one of the most time consuming behaviors.

Studies have been done where animals were given a choice to work for food or eat the same food that was given to them at the same time. Often animals still chose to work for their food.
1986 Ferguson and Inglish found that starlings chose to eat 72% of their diet by working and foraging even though identical food items were freely available.

Examples of contra freeloading: puzzle feeders, food hidden, food smeared on walls, food frozen in ice blocks, food cut in tiny pieces and scattered, large items left whole to break open, food put in items like boxes, bags or kongs.

Some animals may need to start with easy foraging options and get progressively more difficult as the animal learns and adapts.

Always Think About SAFETY !!!

There is more potential for injury, illness and even death in an enriched environment than there is in a sterile one but the benefits to the animal outweigh the risks. An animal's physical and psychological welfare depend on their caretakers providing an enriched environment.

Make every effort to anticipate problems with enrichment.

Body Part Entrapment - Holes

Holes in enrichment devices must be be either too large or too small to get any body part (i.e. head, claw, arm etc.) stuck in a hole.
A fishing cat was given a PVC tube with fish. Holes were large enough for paws to fit in and out easily but the cat got his head stuck in a hole. Tube had to be removed under anesthesia. Cat recovered.

Body Part Entrapment - Hanging Materials

Fingers, limbs, paws, necks etc. can get caught in hanging materials such as ropes, strings, chains etc. leading to amputation of body part or death. Hanging material needs to be very short or encased in PVC pipe or stiff hose. No loops (nooses). Check material often for wear and tear. Ropes fray overtime.
A cockatoo had a rope for climbing and enrichment. Rope became frayed. One morning the bird was found dead, dangling upside down from one leg that was entangled in the frayed rope.

Items Lodged in Mouth

Balls made of soft flexible plastic or rubber are more dangerous than hard inflexible balls i.e. Boomer Balls. Flexible balls allow too much variability in shape and size. With pressure from an animal the ball could get stuck in their mouth or punctured by a tooth.
A maned wolf was given a flexible feeder ball at night. In the morning his lower jaw was stuck in the ball. Ball was removed under anesthesia.
Ingestion of Non-food Items

Some animals will try and eat non-food items while other animals will not. Until proven otherwise, assume an animal will try to eat anything it can get in it's mouth. Every animal is unique. While one raccoon won't eat non-food enrichment items another raccoon might try and eat paper products or other non-food items. An animal may try to consume non-food items as a juvenile but not as an adult.

Products made from recycled cardboard and adhesive can actually seal an animal's mouth shut if the animal chews on it or tries to eat it.
A river otter and brown bear both had their mouths "glued" shut from chewing on cardboard products that contained adhesive material. Both made a full recovery after medical care under anesthesia.

Use great care when putting food on non-food items. Putting wet food (like honey, peanut butter, jelly etc.) on items like paper, cardboard and cloth can tempt the animal to ingest the item.

Toxins, Irritants, and Disease Causing Material

Disinfect "toys" between each use, make sure they are rinsed well.

Sterilize snake skins intended for enrichment by freezing or autoclaving prior to use since skins often come into contact with fecal material.

Make sure all feces, feathers, hair, wool, snake skins etc. used for enrichment come from a healthy, parasite free, animal.

For scent enrichment, urine is a safer option than feces, especially if it has dried.
Can also rub an object on one animal and give it to another animal for scent enrichment.

Use caution with scents. Some strong scents such as cayenne pepper and perfume can irritate mucus membranes or cause a bad physical reaction. Only use a very small amount of perfume (one drop or spritz), preferably outside and put it on an item that can be removed if necessary.

Do not give browse, feces, bedding etc. from beavers or rabbits to other animals because of possible transmission of tularemia.

Do not give browse, feces, bedding etc. from bobcats or cougars to other animals because of possible transmission of toxoplasmosis.
Observe Animals with New Items

When giving any animal an enrichment item for the first time always watch the animal with the new item for a while to see how the animal reacts to it and what the animal does with it.

After observing the animal for a while, if there are no indications of problems, you can leave the animal with the new item but come back and check on the animal periodically.

Don't leave a new enrichment item with an animal overnight until the animal has had it on several occasions and the item is considered safe.


PVC is Polyvinyl Chloride
ABS is Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene Copolymer

PVC is white. ABS is black.
Both are commonly used to make enrichment devices.

PVC is generally considered safe as long as the enrichment device is made properly and has been examined for damage and wear prior to use.

ABS is cheaper but may leach toxic materials into water. In some cities ABS can not be used for drinking water, only to remove waste water.

Escape Hazard

Make sure animals cannot use enrichment items as a bridge for escape.

Use caution with items such as branches, logs, and trees.
Other Potential Hazards Related to Enrichment

Toys or parts of toys might be swallowed and cause choking or asphyxiation.
Enrichment foods fed in excess can cause obesity, diarrhea, bloating and other
health issues.
Items can cause competition or aggression between animals.
Clothing, towels, burlap, rope, hair etc if eaten can cause impaction.
Fibers, burlap and fabric can cause constriction injuries to fingers and toes.
Rawhides, pig ears, bones and other items can cause digestive issues.
Bones and other hard objects can chip or crack teeth.
Excessive enrichment stimuli can cause stress.
Don't give a lot of enrichment to animals being taken out on programs often.
Natural substrates can harbor parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungal organisms.
Metal hardware like screws and nuts can come loose and cause heavy metal
toxicity if eaten.
Carcases, raw meat and other raw foods can carry food-borne pathogens.
i.e. salmonella
Remove items like tape, stickers, staples etc from boxes and such.
Live fish are potential carriers for disease.
Remove uneaten enrichment food before spoilage occurs.

Planning: good enrichment requires knowledge, thought, time and often creativity.

S.P.I.D.E.R. :A Concept Developed by Disney's Animal Kingdom

etting Goals: Which behaviors are to be encouraged or discouraged? Know the animal's natural history and personal history.

lanning: What new items do we want to give? Which animals are to get them? What resources are available? Who needs to approve the new items? How will the items be constructed or acquired?

mplementing: Who will give the item, at what time, how often, for how long, who will monitor the animal? Have a plan to remove the item if necessary (usually more necessary with dangerous animals).

ocumenting: How and what to document? How detailed to you want to be? How did the animal interact with the item, in what way and for how long? Did animal show any aggressive behavior? Any safety concerns?

valuating: Evaluate the data. Was goal achieved? Are there times the animal used items more? What type of presentation worked best?

eadjusting: Refine and improve. Does something need done differently?
Some Goals of Enrichment

Increase the diversity of an animal's behavior
i.e. foraging, playing, climbing, exploration, locomotion, nest building, digging
The more diverse behaviors exhibited by an animal that will eventually be released the better it's ability will be to cope with challenges in the wild.

Reduce or eliminate abnormal behavior i.e.:
Fur pulling / over grooming:
This releases endorphins which helps the animal deal with stress. Reduce stress and give animal something else to groom.
Feather plucking:
Increase foraging enrichment, keep the beak busy, give other toys to preen.
Give animal other things to destroy.
Vary feeding times if pacing occurs right before feeding times, feed smaller meals more often, increase time it takes to eat.

Improve species-specific skills and behaviors
Provide orphan juveniles opportunity to develop skills
Provide adults ability to maintain natural behaviors

Develop the ability to cope with challenges in a positive healthy way.
Reduction of negative stress.
Public education: Offer lessens on species specific behavior.

Releasable Animals and Education Animals

Animals that will be released need to be treated and enriched differently than those that are non-releasable education animals. Animals that are going to be released must have knowledge of natural food items, fear of predators, physical fitness and motor skills that are sufficient for survival once released. For animals kept for educational purposes, the desired level of interaction with people, habituation to people and other animals must be determined and developed.

Enrichment can give orphans the ability to learn, practice and refine skills and can help adult animals in rehab maintain species specific behavior. Enrichment can help prepare animals in rehab for release.

Enrichment for animals in rehab can improve their overall health i.e.:
increased recovery of motor ability in animals with brain damage
reduce self-injury and aggressive behavior
reduction of plasma cortisol levels (decreased stress)
increased immune response

Scheduling Enrichment

Enrichment Calendar v/s Enrichment List

Calender / Strict schedule (pros and cons):
Eliminates guesswork of which item is to be given
Know that all items will be used
Staff / volunteer accountability
Sometimes difficult to stay on schedule (esp on busy days)
Some items are only seasonal (pumpkins, fruits etc)
Tend to use the same items over and over

List / Flexible schedule (pros and cons):
Allows for more creativity in putting items together
Allows for more flexibility on busy days / non -busy days
Number of enrichment items is not limited to number of days per month
Ordering food items may be more difficult if items are not regularly stocked
More room for error and confusion

Regardless of what method you use include amount of food enrichment to be given.
i.e. 10 peanuts, 1 Tbsp of jelly, 1/4 c. mixed veggies etc. to prevent overfeeding.

Even if an enrichment item is ignored, it still may be enriching. The animal will be aware of the presence of a new item in it's environment, even if it doesn't interact with it. The behavior to ignore the stimuli is a choice the animal makes. Sometimes an animal will ignore an item several times only to interact with it later on. Sometimes an item will alter an animal's behavior even if the animal doesn't directly interact with it.
Browse as Enrichment

Browse: shoots, twigs, flowers and leaves of trees and shrubs used by animals for food.

Prior to giving any plant material to an animal consult with knowledgeable horticulturalists and your veterinarian to decide which browse to feed. Some plants are fine for some species and not others. Sometimes only a particular part of a plant is edible while another parts may be toxic, and some plants are more edible at certain times of the year.

Leaves with hairs on them, like many types of viburnums, can cause impaction.
Don't use plants that have been sprayed with chemicals.

Mix it up. If using browse as food enrichment, use a variety of browse species. Careful not to feed too much of any one species.

Good browse / plant reference is the American Association of Zookeepers' (AAZK) Enrichment Notebook, 3rd edition, chapter 7 (CD-ROM).

Resources for Enrichment Information and Ideas.


Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals by Robert J. Young

Second Nature: environmental enrichment for captive animals
edited by David j. Shepherdson, Jill D. Mellen, Michael Hutchins

Zookeeping: an introduction to the science and technology
edited by Mark D. Irwin, John B. Stoner, and Aaron M. Cobaugh

Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Environmental Enrichment 29 August to 3 September 1999. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edited by Valerie E. Worley and Kathy Myers

Enriching Animal Lives by Hal Markowitz

Wild Mammals in Captivity by Kleinman, D. G et al. (1996) ISBN: 0226440036.

Health and Welfare of Captive Reptiles by Warwick, C. Fyre, F. & Murphy, J.B. (1994) ISBN: 0632050527.

www.animalenrichment.org (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
- S.P.I.D.E.R. Concept

www.enrichment.org (Shape of Enrichment)
- safety database
- enrichment idea database
- publishes quarterly newsletter (electronic subscriptions $18/yr, paper $24/yr)
- free blog: website, select "publications" then "blog"

www.ozarkwild.org/enrichment.php (Ozark)
article: "Enrichment - an integral part of basic native fauna rehabilitation and animal welfare"

www.honoluluzoo.org (Honolulu Zoo)
- search "enrichment"

www.well.com/user/abs/dbs/eesb (Environmental Enrichment Scrapbook)
- includes species specific ideas

www.oregonzoo.org (Oregon Zoo)
-search "enrichment"

www.natzoo.si.edu/SCBI/Animal Enrichment/ (National Zoo)

www.folsom.ca.ua (Folsom City Zoo)
Directory - Zoo Sanctuary - Click "Zoo Keeping" tab

Look at websites for other AZA accredited zoos. Most have enrichment pictures and information.

AAZK: American Association of Zookeepers
Members receive a monthly newsletter "Animals' Keeper Forum" Usually one enrichment article each month.

AAZK-learn.org for AAZK members to share ideas, discuss topics and ask questions. Also have classes
Affiliate Membership $40/yr.
Professional Membership for full-time zookeepers.

AZA: American Zoological Association
Enrichment listserve as well as other listserves such as raptors, waterfowl etc.

Must be a professional member to get on listserves.
Professional Associate ~ $175/yr or $80 half-year
Professional Affiliate for those employed in a zoo.

Enrichment gone wrong by Valerie Hare, Beth Rich and Karen Worley, Shape of Enrichment (article)

Contra Freeloading (Working for Food) at the Phoenix Zoo by Hilda Tresz, ABMA Wellspring, Vol. 11, Issue 2, Spring 2010 (article)

Enrichment Notebook Third Edition (CD). Produced by AAZK Inc. Enrichment Committee. Editors Denise Wagner & Susan Chan
Currently out of print. May be able to find a used copy on the internet. AAZK is considering putting out a 4th edition in the future.

Animal Enrichment page on Pinterest

AZA group on behavior and environmental enrichment puts on workshops in the U.S. (see AZA website)

International Conference on Environmental Enrichment (See Shape of Enrichment website)

Enrichment Suppliers and Products

General Enrichment Ideas For Mammals

Food Enrichment Ideas

Food items are general suggestions, typically for more omnivorous animals,
and all items are not suitable for all mammal species.
Make sure food items are appropriate for the animals they are given to.

Ice blocks: make with water, gatorade, dilute juice, broth or meat blood etc.
Freeze food or treats inside. Vary sizes, can add layers.
Not-toxic edible browse: flowers, branches, leaves
Air popped popcorn
Apple butter, applesauce
Produce items cut in small pieces and scattered or hidden
Whole hard boiled eggs
Bugs: crickets, meal worms, waxworms, maggots, superworms
Non-sugary cereal i.e. rice puffs, toasted oats, shredded wheat
Peanut butter or other nut butters (*CAUTION* Some people have severe peanut allergies)
Molasses, honey, jelly
Whole pumpkins, melons, apples, heads of romaine, coconut (other whole produce items)
Figs / dried fruit bits / raisins
Yogurt covered raisins, banana chips
Mix applesauce, apple butter, peanut butter etc with powder from dry kibble items
Odd produce items they don't normally get i.e. kiwi, star fruit, papaya, mango etc
Whole nuts in shell
Shelled peanuts scattered or hidden (*CAUTION* Some people have severe peanut allergies)
Tuna fish, trout, smelt, clams, snails
Physical Habitat

New branches, logs, perches
Water from mister nozzle attached to a hose
Different types of moss
Different mulches
Different types of bedding: grass hay, timothy hay, straw, woodwool, shavings
Shredded paper
Dirt Pile
Mud Hole
Kiddy Pool with water, sand, other substrates
Things to hide in: barrels, buckets, boxes, bags etc
Stick piles
Pine tree (used non-treated Christmas tree)
Rearrange or turn over logs and rocks etc. in their enclosure, exposes bugs and worms

Sensory Enrichment
Olfactory (Scents)

Non-toxic, edible browse (flowers, leaves, branches etc.)
Perfume (Caution, use outside. Don't overdo, one drop / spritz is enough.)
Aromatherapy Oils (Caution, don't overdo. One drop is enough)
Cooking spices and herbs
Extracts i.e. vanilla, lemon, peppermint
Bedding, logs, sticks etc from another (healthy) animal.
Feathers (from healthy education birds)
Sheep wool, horse hair
Muscle rub cream (i.e.Ben-Gay)
Anchovy paste

Use caution with strong scents like perfume. Animals often have much stronger sense of smell then people and they can have a bad reaction to strong smells like some people do.

Use only one scent per week in only a few places. This allows previous scent to dissipate before adding a new one and encourages the animal seek out the new scent.


Scratching post
Snow, pile of ice cubes
Mounted brushes, grooming boards
Dried grasses, sticks
Pine shavings, hay, woodwool, mulch
"Toys" i.e. hollee rollers, boomer balls
Burlap, blankets, cloths
Feathers, sheep wool, horse hair
Animal paintings
Brushing an animals fur
Logs, stumps, rotting logs
Dirt pile, mud, leaf pile, sod

Nature sounds
Recordings of other animal vocalizations
Noise makers (forest sounds, waves, etc)
White noise
TV / Movies
Wind chimes
PVC rattle (PVC pipe with caps glued on to both ends and rocks, marbles etc inside)

TV / Movie
Toys with movement
Floating soap bubbles (bubble maker)
Chalk drawings
Rotating color wheel

Puzzle feeders
Training sessions (especially if learning a new behavior)
Novel experiences (food, scent, toy etc that they have
never had before)
Other animals (same or different species)
Training sessions / interactions with caretakers
Public appearances, education programs
Stuffed animal
Visual barriers to allow animals to hide from others

American Excelsior
www.amerexcel.com (woodwool and mulch)
Animal Specialties and Provisions
www.animalspecialties.biz (toys, treats, bedding)
Aussie Dog Products
www.aussiedog.com.au (hammocks and toys for large and small animals)
Bamboo Forever
www.foreverbamboo.com (bamboo products)
BCI Burke Co
. Inc www.bciburke.com (playground equipment)
www.bio-serv.com (food items, toys, puzzle feeders)
Boomer Ball
www.boomerball.com (durable hard balls)
Caning Company
www.caning.com (gourds)
Central Ohio Bag & Burlap Inc.
www.centralohioburlapandbag.com (burlap sacs, and rolls of burlap)

Doctors Foster & Smith
www.drsfostersmith.com (food, toys and treats for wildbirds, pet birds, small mammals, horses and reptiles)
Duracast Products
www.duracast.com (plastic enrichment products)
Edible Landscaping
www.ediblelandscaping.com (edible plants)
Ethical, Inc.
www.ethicalpet.com (chew toys and squish ball)
Exotic Creations
www.exoticreations.com/ (bird toys)
Fluker Farms
www.flukerfarms.com (reptile supplies)
Hollow Log
www.hollowlog.com (wood tunnels, half rounds, discs)
Horsemen's Pride Inc.
www.horsemenspride.com (jolly balls)
Injoy Coursing Equipment
www.injoy-1.com (coursing lures)
International Cordage
www.internationalcordage.net (rope structures)
Jeffer's Pet Supply
www.jefferspet.com or www.jefferslivestock.com (pet, livestock and exotic animal supplies)

Kracor, Inc
www.kracor.com (plastic enrichment feeders and toys)
www.larson-usa.com (themed construction, artificial trees rocks etc., stumps with holes for food.)
Leather Elves
www.theleatherelves.com (enrichment toys for birds and zoo animals)
www.nose-its.com (puzzle feeders)
Nylabone Products
www.nylabone.com (chew toys)
Otto Environmental, LLC
www.ottoenvironmental.com (enrichment items for zoo animals - go to "shop by species" tab for enrichment items)
Pacific Fibre & Rope Co. Inc
www.pacificfiber.com (cargo nets, rope ladders)
www.pharmaserv.net (Toys, nesting material, diets)
Primate Products, Inc
www.primateproducts.com (enrichment devices for primates)
Primate Store
www.primatestore.com/monkey_toys.asp (toys, treats and foraging devices)

Safari Thatch & Bamboo
www.safarithatch.com (bamboo appropriate for feeders)
Sanctuary Supplies
www.sanctuarysupplies.com (toys for small and large animals, reptile supplies)
Shepherd Specialty Papers
www.ssponline.com (bedding)
Sweeny Enterprises, Inc
www.sweenyfeeders.com (wildlife feeders and accessories)
US Plastics
www.usplastics.com (heavy duty plastic barrels, 15 - 55 gallons)
Welburn Gorud Farm
www.welburngourdfarm.com (gourds and gourd bird houses)
Wildlife Toybox
www.wildlifetoybox.com (hard plastic toys)
www.wormjar.com (slow feeder for large mealworms)
Zoomed Laboratories
www.zoomed.com (reptile supplies)

General pet stores
(for things like kong toys, hollee rollers, parrot toys)
Home improvement stores
(for sisal rope, PVC pipe, hardware, lawn bags)
Art stores
(for canvas , paint, sidewalk chalk)
Enrichment Ideas for Specific Mammal Species


Feed (gut-load) the mealworms, or other insect larvae, one single food item a few hours prior feeding them to the bats to change the flavor of the insect. Rotate the food items fed to the insects (i.e. carrot, mango, red pepper, watermelon, broccoli, sweet potato, kale, pumpkin, collard greens, squash etc). Mealworms fed this way should still be fed their regular fortified diet.

Occasionally give different sizes and types of insects then what they normally get (i.e. crickets, mealworms, waxworms, maggots).

Occasionally feed batmash and change up the flavor of babyfood used (For batmash recipe see Amanda Lollar's book referenced below, see my prezi on native bats or contact me directly)

Take bat outside on warm evenings.

For tree roosting species (Eastern Red Bats and Hoary Bats):
Rough branches with leaves or artificial plants secured to ceiling of enclosure
Grapevine branches (up to 1" in diameter)
Rough tree bark
Wicker "bird nests" baskets attached to roof upside down
(*** make sure enrichment items for tree bat species are secured to top or sides or enclosure and not on the bottom. It is normal for tree bats to flap around on the floor of their enclosures at night and if there there are enrichment items on the floor they can injure themselves.)

For crevice roosting species (all other native Ohio bat species)
Wicker "bird nests" baskets attached to roof upside down
Hidey huts made for birds (i.e. Happy Hut and Snuggle Sack)
Fabric roosting pouch


Whole eggs
Mackerel fish, hidden
Frozen salmon cubes

Bury toys and food for them to dig up.
Put straw in sock or burlap sack.
Large branches with leaves to hide in
Boxes, bags, pinatas
PVC puzzle feeders with kibble
Feathers, wool and hair from other animals

Virginia Opossums

small amount of egg, crickets, wax worms, mealworms,
cantaloupe, orange, coconut, onion, tomato, watermelon, pumpkin, yam, strawberry, corn, broccoli, jello, honey (very small smear), night crawlers, mixed nuts, pinkey mouse,
1 grape, corn on the cob with husks, milkbone dog biscuits, spices, browse, seed mix, raisins, pinecones with peanut butter and seed

phone books, cardboard boxes, paper bags, shredded paper, kongs, boomerball


Enrichment toys designed for monkeys and other small primates.
Boomer balls, Kong toys, Nylabones, feathers, snake shed, deer antlers, nature sounds

PVC Stacked Caps Feeder (see Animal Keepers' Forum, Vol. 40, No.6 June 2013, pgs. 292-298 for instructions on making this device)

Browse (branches with leaves, buds, berries)
Carcass feeding (dead animals i.e. baby rabbits, mice or birds etc.)
Cricket feeders (PVC pipe with 0.64cm holes and removable end caps)
Piles of crushed ice
Frozen fishsicles (pieces of smelt in ice cubes, can float cubes in water dishes or pools)
Floating fruit (whole apples floating in deeper tubs or pools of water)
Frozen bananas (freeze whole banana, including peel)
Fruitsicles (Freeze pieces of fruit in icecubes, can float in water)
Hardboiled eggs
Hanging fruit (stick whole pieces of fruit one ends of tree branches)
Mealworms feeders (same as cricket feeders but smaller, 0.3 cm, holes)
Melon Ball feeder (see article for instructions)
Scent trail (using spray bottle of juice, herbs in water etc)
Stuffed pinecones (Stuff untreated pinecones with fruit, seeds, etc, secure with honey)
Treat logs (see article instructions)
(See NWRA, Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring 2011, pages 20-24 for descriptions and instructions on above items.)


Stuffed pine cones: between the pinecone shingles stuff things like nut butters, raisins, fruit paste or other favorite treats. Pine cones can be frozen or not.

Bury food items such as kibble, raisins, peanuts, or insects.

Rotting logs
Boxes and milkcrates with towels and sheets inside for sleeping areas
Feeder ball with holes


Native nuts: walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts (filberts) hickory, acorns

Rodent block powder mixed with applesauce, peanut butter, juice etc. and formed into balls. They can be hidden in enclosure.

Various browse branches flowers and dried leaves

Crickets and mealworms
Popcorn (air popped, no butter or salt)
Seeds (ie sunflower seeds, bird seed, millet)

Antlers for gnawing on
Chew toys made from willow branches and other material designed for
guinea pigs.
Nest boxes designed for cavity nesting pet birds (i.e.cockatiels)
Pine cones
Natural woven baskets (no strings, wire, staples or glue)

Toys and hiding huts made from willow branches, hay etc. Designed for domestic rabbits and guinea pigs.

Favorite food hidden in boxes, cardboard tubes or a leaf pile.

Sunflower seeds

Crickets, mealworms and waxworms
Enrichment Ideas for Birds

General Enrichment Ideas For Birds

Give birds a wide variety of nesting material, even things they are not known to use in the wild (caution: don't offer nesting material that can get wrapped around bird legs and cut off circulation i.e. human hair, dryer lint etc)

Water from mister nozzle attached to a hose.

Perches at various heights and made from various material and different widths.

Hide food treats between pages of phone books

Ice blocks: with or without food items inside

Variety of substrates, i.e. pine shavings, mats, dirt, mulch, sod, straw etc.

Crows and Jays

Bark pieces (spread handfuls of bark throughout enclosure)
Browse (branches with leaves, buds, berries)
Carcass feeding (dead animals i.e. baby rabbits, mice or birds etc.)
Cricket feeders (PVC pipe with 0.64cm holes and removable end caps)
Fruitsicles (Freeze pieces of fruit in icecubes, can float in water)
Hanging corncobs (hang cob of raw corn)
Hanging fruit (stick whole pieces of fruit one ends of tree branches)
Mealworms feeders (same as cricket feeders but smaller, 0.3 cm, holes)
Nesting material (nesting material can be put in holes of mealworm feeder)
Piles of crushed ice
Seed sticks (Cover stick in honey and roll in birdseed, allow honey to dry a bit)
Shallow pan of dirt
Stuffed pinecones (Stuff untreated pinecones with fruit, seeds, etc, secure with honey)
Treat logs (see article instructions)
(See NWRA, Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring 2011, pages 20-24 for descriptions and instructions)

: iceblocks, browse, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, grape juice, spices, seed mix, raisins, gatorade, mixed nuts with shells
:cardboard boxes and tubes, phone books, shredded paper, leather scraps, sisal rope, puzzle feeders, boomerball, pine cones, mister, kongs, manufactured bird toys, nylabones
Bald Eagles

oranges, grapefruit, pinkie mice, krill, ice blocks, rabbits, edible flowers, greens, whole chicken, pumpkin, live fish, browse, extracts, herbs, spices

animal hair, different substrate piles (mulch, pine chips, peat moss, sand, grit, sod), air stones in pool, boomer ball, antlers, bird song recordings, new logs, feathers
Hawks and Owls

varied diet (trout, quail, liver, rabbit etc depending on species), pumpkins, melons

new scrub brush heads (for preening), phone books, large sisal rope, browse, sticks for manipulation and nest building, boomer ball with food / shredded paper inside, cricket feeder, autoclaved shake sheds, puzzle feeders with food inside

Pheasant and Quail

Frozen mixed veggies (thawed), wild birdseed, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cooked white potato or sweet potato,corn on the cob (no husks), oranges, mushrooms, pinecones with peanut butter rolled in seed, insects (mealworms, superworms, maggots, waxworms, crickets)

Christmas trees
Variety of substrates (i.e. sand, peat moss, dirt) for dust baths.


Create a natural habitat that is appropriate for the species. Give items such as dirt, rocks, leaves, branches, grass, bark, logs etc.

Incorporate natural browse such as seed heads, leaf litter with insects, branches with berries and buds, flowers

Offer a variety of natural whole food items. Whole fruit can be speared on branches or wooden skewers secured to branches for fruit eating birds.

Compost buckets of fruit can be used to cultivate fruit flies, freshly caught moths can be released and domestic fly pupae can be hatched in the aviary or flight room for aerial feeding insectivores.

Dishes of mealworms hidden in brush piles for wrens and sparrows and under layers of grass for blackbirds, robins and mockingbirds.

Hang seed feeders and suet feeders for species that use those resources.


whole ears of corn with husks,
whole head of romaine lettuce,
large bones, oxtails,
whole small pumpkin

Cardboard boxes, paper cups, paper towel tubes
Stalks of bamboo
Straw brooms

Vulture Knots: With a 3 foot length of sisal rope tie as many knots as possible. Pull them tightly as possible then tie the knots into knots making one compact bundle. Enrichment item mimics natural carcass tearing behavior. Make sure rope is not being eaten. Watch for rope fibers in feces.


Trumpeter Swan:
ice block, minnows, non-toxic flowers, scratch, trout chow, krill, smelt, greens, corn stalks, herbs, popcorn, oats, wild bird seed, peat moss, boomer ball, bird song recordings, new logs, pile of pine chips, mister, cardboard boxes, pine shavings, sand, animal hair, mulch, air stones in pool, woodwool

Ducks and Geese:
Vary the way waterfowl pellets are presented (i.e. whole pellets offered dry, float whole pellets in water, soak pellets till soft mash by hand hand and add a little more water, soak pellets till soft put in food processor then add a little more water).

Frozen invertebrates (i.e. krill, mysis shrimp, brine shrimp etc.) thawed and floated in water (great for shoveler ducks)

Enrichment Ideas for Reptiles

Enriching Reptiles

Include natural, rather than artificial, plant life when possible.
Drop temperature slightly at night to simulate natural environment.
Not all enrichment is obvious or entertaining, especially with reptiles.

Toys and devices used with birds and mammals may or may not be suited for some reptile species. Often, a more naturalistic approach, works best with reptiles, but not always.

Enrichment for reptiles should not be overlooked. Creative thinking and research on the ecology of wild reptiles will provide opportunities for enriching reptiles through manipulating the feeding regime, exhibit design, substrate, heat and light cycles or social surroundings.

Use caution when changing substrates for reptiles. No substrate is acceptable for all terrestrial reptile species. Sand can cause impaction issues in some reptiles. Some substrates may cause dehydration issues while other substrates may cause too much moisture build up.


PVC pipes and cardboard tubes
Snake sheds from other snakes (sterilized)
Feathers, Rocks, Deer antlers
Paper egg crates from cricket boxes
Hay or shavings from healthy mammals
Boxes and paper bags
Mist enclosure with spray bottle of water
Pumpkin cave (hiding area made from cleaned out pumpkin half)
New climbing branches, logs or stumps
Shredded paper

Different substrate (pine needles, leaf litter, different types of mulch, coconut fiber, gravel, moss etc)

Fur or feathers from healthy animals soaked in water. Put small amount of scented water around the snakes habitat.
Aquatic Turtles

beet greens, chard, chickweed, clover, collard greens, endive, dandelion, escarole, fresh herbs, kale, mustard greens, romaine, watercress
: apple, banana, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, mango, mulberries, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, watermelon
: avocado, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumber, green beans, peas, pumpkin, radish, squash, tomato, turnip, yam, zucchini
: blackworms, live brine shrimp, daphnia, fruit flies, grasshoppers, mealworms, moths, roaches, silkworms, slugs, snails, termites, tubifex worms, waxworms, crickets
bee balm, begonia, calendula, carnation, chickweed, cornflower, cosmos, dandelion, fuchsia, hibiscus, marigold, nasturtiums, pansies, petunias, rose of sharon, roses, sweet william, violet
Meat / other:
bird of prey diet (POB), cat food, clams, commercial turtle food, crayfish, cuttlefish bone, eggs, ground meat, hermit crab food, shrimp, smelt, earthworms, pinkie mice
ping pong balls, feathers, scents, nature sounds, wind chime
Grass clumps, leaf litter, mud, soil, moss, mulch, natural plants, stumps, sand, logs, gravel, branches, rocks, corkbark

(Caution: Only give small amount of fruit, can cause digestive issues)
Box Turtles

: beet greens, chard, chickweed, clover, collard greens, dandelion, endive, escarole, fresh herbs, kale, mustard greens, romaine, watercress
: apple, banana, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, kiwi, mango, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, watermelon
: avocado, beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumber, green beans, peas, pumpkin, radish, squash, tomato, turnip, yam, zucchini
: blackworms, live brine shrimp, daphnia, fruit flies, grasshoppers, mealworms, moths, roaches, silkworms, slugs, snails, termites, tubifex worms, waxworms, crickets
: bee balm, begonia, calendula, carnation, chickweed, cornflower, cosmos, dandelion, fuchsia, hibiscus, marigold, nasturtiums, pansies, petunias, rose of sharon, roses, sweet william, violet
Meat / other
: bird of prey diet (POB), commercial turtle food, hermit crab food, earthworms
red boomer ball, digging box, leaf litter, mud, moss, mulch, stumps, sand, gravel, logs, branches, rocks, corkbark, scents, hide favorite food items, large shallow dish of water, pumpkin cave
(Caution: Only give small amount of fruit, can cause digestive issues)
Common Browse

Boxelder (Acer negundo)
Crabapple (Malus sp.) - high in oxalates
Dogwood (Cornus sp.)
Forsythia (Forsythis sp.)
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacantohos) -
remove thorns
Linden (Tilia sp.)
Mulberry (Morus sp.)
Poplar (populus sp.)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus sp.)
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflus)
Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Willow (Salix sp.) - high in oxalates
Witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia)
Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)

If using pine trees for shelter / enrichment avoid ponderosa and lodge pole pines.
Edible / Non-toxic herbs and other plants

Basil, sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
Clover (Trifolium sp.)
Lemon balm
Marigold (Tagetes officinale)
- blossoms only
Mint (Mentha sp.)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Parsley (Petroselinium crispum)
Rose (Rosa sp.)
-blossoms only
Snap dragons
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Tulip flower petals


sunflower seeds, pumpkins, applesauce, jello, iceblocks, melons, pasta (cooked or uncooked), mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, edible flowers, dried fruit, bananas, carrots, cereal, whole heads of lettuce; cabbage; and cauliflower floated in pool, mealworms, superworms, crickets, popcorn, sugarcane

thick boomerballs, cornstalks, evergreen branches, perfume, spices, extracts, herbs, woodwool

Mud Box: Shallow wooden "sand box" make up untreated wood. Fill box with natural soil and water to make thick packing mud. Make sure beavers have constant supply of fresh logs to discourage them from eating the wooden box.

Nocturnal Animals

Enrichment for nocturnal animals should be given given at night but enriching nocturnal animals is often more difficult to do safely. Encouraging daytime activity for nocturnal animals can have a negative affect on their overall health and well-being. Night time observations should be done occasionally for all animals, but particularly for nocturnal animals to ensure their enrichment is not causing excessive stress and is not a safety hazard.
AAZK Enrichment Committee, Dallas Zoo, Sept 1998
AAZK Enrichment Notebook, 3rd edition
Animal Keepers' Forum, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2001, page 161
Animal Keepers' Forum, Vol. 41, No. 1, January 2014
Animal Keeper's Forum, Vol. 27, No. 10, 2000
Animal Keepers' Forum, Vol. 40, No.6 June 2013, pgs. 292-298.
Bats in Captivity Vol. 3, Edited by Susan M. Barnard, Logos Press, 2011.
Blank Park Zoo www.blankparkzoo.com
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Enrichment For Reptiles by E. Blake, D. Sherriff, T. Skelton K.F. Anderson, Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland
Environmental Enrichment Scrapbook www.well.com/user/abs/dbs/eesb
"Fun with Foxes" Shape of Enrichment Vol. 8, No. 3 August 1999 pg.5
Nashville Zoo www.nashvillezoo.org
NWRA, Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring 2011, pages 20-24
Passerine Fundamentals by Veronica Bowers 2014
Scoop on Skunks, Shape of Enrichment, Vol. 9, No. 1, Feb. 2000, page 10.
Shape of Enrichment newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 2, May 1997
Shape of Enrichment newsletter, Vol. 7, No. 2, May 1998
Shape of Enrichment newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 3, August 1999
Shape of Enrichment newsletter, Vol. 11 No. 2, May 2002
Standards and Medical Management for Captive Insectivorous Bats, by Amanda Lollar, Bat World
Sanctuary, 2010.

Toys and hiding huts made from willow branches, hay etc. Designed for domestic rabbits and guinea pigs.
Full transcript