Last week, the PGAV Zoo Design Specialty Development Team met to discuss enrichment. As prep for this discussion, we read a few short articles, including this one from Jon Coe. In it, he asserts that the purpose of enrichment is to provide animals with Competence, Choice and Collaboration.
Competence, according to Coe, is the ability to perform natural behaviors at a level that which, if when returned to the wild, the animal would be able to sustain itself.
Choice is the basic fundamental of enrichment, in my eyes. Just like us, animals in captivity are happier when able to assert some level of control over their lives. Providing animals with choices, like micro-climate or socio-behavioral options, as well as more advanced choices, like problem solving, will enhance their lives incalculably.
And finally, we arrive at Collaboration. This concept was something I hadn’t really considered until reading Coe’s article, but the idea is fairly straight-forward. Some enrichment allows a relationship between keeper and animal that would not otherwise occur; the keeper and animal work together, or the animal relies on the trainer in order to achieve something. Training as enrichment is the obvious example here.
I mention all of this because of a video clip one of the SDT members shared with us last week. Beyond being absolutely mind-blowing (but also, not really!), it truly supported the idea of Collaborative enrichment AND Choice. Fast forward to 7:45.