Wednesday, April 10, 2013

If you were in the zoo...

Take a moment to imagine something:
You open your eyes in the morning, stretch and stand up.  You drink in the warm sunshine and the beautiful scenery out your window.  All you want to do is go out and run, but you can't.  There just isn't enough space in your room to move; it's so crowded and messy. 
Everything you need to survive is given to you in that room: your food, your water, even your bathroom is contained within that space.  However, there is nothing to do there. There are no books, no electronics,  no paper or pens, no music, no TV, not even so much as a ball to bounce against the wall.  You remember that you are supposed to act a certain way. You know how to speak English, how to read and write, and how to play baseball, but somehow you've found yourself forgetting.  With no one to talk to, you don't have the need for speech, so you don't talk.  Without space, you never have need to walk, so you either stand or lay on the floor for most of the day.  The only company you have are your thoughts, but even they are diminishing. 
Later in the evening, your mother opens your door, says hello, and hands you a bowl of soup for supper.  Then she leaves, the sun goes down, and you have nothing better to do than go to sleep.

Sound totally bizarre? For humans, it is.  We are not confined 24/7; and even prisoners are allowed the chance to leave their cells for a short time and partake in various activities. However, for animals in many zoos, this insane scenario is a reality.  They are left, day after day, with nothing to do except pace back and forth or lay on the ground. 

So what can we do? Enrichment is the answer! Comment with ideas on how we can keep captive animals stimulated mentally and physically :)
  Photo Credit:


  1. Well for cheetahs, I know some zoos have awesome enrichment programs where they are able to chase some sort of bait in a large area. I feel like relating this idea to other types of animals is a good type of enrichment!!

  2. Agreed, for predatory animals maybe a chase line could be set up or even like they have for dogs, food puzzles. When they figure out how to solve the puzzle they get a treat. For non-chase oriented animals, you could use a food puzzle again or put some other type of interactive toys in. First thing that comes to mind are those large spheres that horses can roll or are hung from rafters for them to play with.