"When an animal is under human care, we have removed an exquisitely adapted organism from the environment that shaped it over countless years. Stimulating their minds and activity levels allows us, in some small way, to give them back what has been lost in this transition." -Chris Jenkins CPBT-KA
There’s a lot more that goes into being a zoo keeper than shoveling poop and feeding animals. Keepers spend time studying animals so they can give them the best life possible here at the Zoo – and that includes preserving, encouraging, and challenging their natural animal instincts through enrichment programs. Enrichment is a way that zookeepers give animals the opportunity to express natural behaviors.
At Nashville Zoo at Grassmere we have a very active enrichment program that is under the guidance of the Behavioral Husbandry Curator. Each Area Supervisor is responsible for the management of the enrichment of the animals in their area, but the keepers are responsible for implementing the enrichment. It is a team effort when creating and implementing the most custom, species specific enrichment programs for Nashville Zoo’s animals.
Along with the animal’s health and diet, environmental enrichment is a crucial part to the quality of life and welfare of each animal at the Zoo. The keepers are very knowledgeable of species’ natural behaviors and physiology which enables them to develop the most appropriate and effective enrichment programs. The ultimate goal of enrichment programs is to enhance the welfare of species in our care. We hope by seeing this our guests can connect more deeply with these animals and begin to participate in their conservation throughout the world. Nashville Zoo creates their enrichment programs based off of the categories defined by The Shape of Enrichment:
- Physical Habitat
Rhinoceros Hornbill plays with plush toy as sensory enrichment.
Cassowary plays and eats with watermelon as food based enrichment.
Clouded Leopard with cardboard box as sensory enrichment.
White-cheeked Gibbons play in cardboard playhouse as physical habitat and social enrichment.
White Cheeked Gibbons play as physical habitat and social enrichment.
Cockatoos play with pinata as sensory and social enrichment.
A lorikeet plays and eats a flower as food and sensory enrichment.