Enrichment activities: a Must for the Zoo!

Zoo de Granby implemented the concept of animal enrichment activities in the early 2000s. This part of our zookeepers’ job is very important because it contributes greatly to improving the health and well-being of our animals.

In a zoo context, the physical and psychological health of our animals is strongly linked to a rich and stimulating environment. This is why it is essential to find ways to enrich the daily activities of as many of our animals as possible.

But, really, what do we mean by enrichment activities?

An enrichment activity, in an animal context, has several objectives:
  • To encourage animals to use their natural abilities;
  • To promote behaviours specific to each species;
  • To allow animals to keep some control over their environment by letting them make choices for themselves and to benefit from new experiences.
In order to achieve these goals, creativity is a must! To encourage them to sharpen their senses and aptitudes we need to implement social, environmental, cognitive, dietary and sensory enrichment activities.

Here are some examples of enrichment activities for our animal residents at Zoo de Granby:

Bears, in their natural environment, spend a lot of time looking for food. To succeed, they will travel over long distances and will use their sense of smell as well as their claws. To stimulate this behaviour, Zoo de Granby zookeepers will hide a bear’s food all over its environment. They will place it under tree trunks or high up somewhere, in boxes or, to lengthen their search, they might place the food in some ice as well. You must admit, this is far more interesting than just gobbling it up in a pan!

Every holiday offers an opportunity for creating a theme-based enrichment activity we can use for our animals. For instance, in October, for Halloween, our gorillas love receiving food surprises hidden inside pumpkins; for Easter, our Japanese macaques will receive all kinds of colourful treats!