Enrichment for the animals who live at Wildlife Images is an incredibly important part of what we do everyday. It may be bubbles for wolf ambassadors, music for the birds of prey, or hidden treats for Brady. No matter what form it takes, enrichment allows animals to practice their natural skills and it stimulates the brain and body. The Animal Ambassadors at Wildlife Images don’t need to hide from predators, chase down prey, or defend their territory but we still want them to be able to express those instincts and skills.
Smell is an important sense that almost all animals have developed far beyond what the human nose is capable of detecting. At Wildlife Images we use both natural and manmade scents in enrichment. Old Spice cologne has been a favorite of some critters. Taz, the Eurasian lynx loves the scent of citrus.
Staff and volunteers closely monitor diets to ensure the health of the animals who live at Wildlife Images. In the wild, feast and famine is the name of the game for many animals. We replicate this at times to allow the some of the animals, especially the carnivores a chance to enjoy a larger meal. We will also add in special treats, like berries, nuts, or eggs every once in a while that is not in an animals daily diet but is something they would eat in the wild.
We regularly rearrange many of the enclosures to give the animals a different perspective. One of our favorite forms of enrichment for sight is mirrors. Darwin the turtle adores the small mirror placed in his habitat. He can be found staring at the handsome turtle in the mirror for hours.
In the wild, sounds surround an animal even when it seems quiet to human ears. We know the many of the mammal and bird Animal Ambassadors respond to human voices, especially those of their regular handlers. We’ve also found that music is a great form of enrichment for the birds.
Depending on the species, the animals at Wildlife Images would be building dens, climbing trees, perching on mountain tops, or scrambling across a variety of ground cover. To offer tactile enrichment we provide a huge selection of objects that are smooth, rough, soft, or firm. Dig boxes are a favorite of Nubs, the badger. Many animals receive handmade puzzle feeders. Whether simple or elaborate, this allows them to use their paws, claws, and in the case of the coatis and skunks – their noses, to get the food out.
It’s easy and fun to get involved in the enrichment work that happens at Wildlife Images! Here are some opportunities: