AT THE BUTTONWOOD PARK ZOO, we know that animal enrichment is a key component to animal welfare. Enrichment is one of the most important things our zookeepers do for, and with, our resident animals! The purpose behind enrichment is to stimulate each animal’s natural behavior and provide variety in its daily routine. By offering novel foods, objects, and scents, we encourage our animals to forage, explore and makes choices within their environment. The ultimate goal of our enrichment program is to enhance the welfare of the animals in our care.
WHO GETS ENRICHMENT? EVERYONE! No matter the size or the species, every animal at the Zoo receives enrichment.
WHY IS ENRICHMENT IMPORTANT? Part of what zookeepers do is to study the animals under their care so they can give them the best life possible. By understanding each animal’s unique behaviors and its natural history, our staff can create and offer a wide variety of enrichment activities to encourage and challenge its animal instincts. Enrichment not only provides mental stimulation and exercise, but also offers a more exciting and educational experience for our guests.
HOW OFTEN DO ANIMALS GET ENRICHMENT? All throughout the day! Of course, the frequency depends on the individual animal as well as the species. Enrichment can be categorized into the following areas: cognitive, sensory, nutritional, physical, and social. Some animals prefer certain types of enrichment, but that doesn’t stop our zookeepers from offering variety and choices.
The Toys for Elephants program, now in its 7th year, is a collaboration between the Buttonwood Park Zoo, Handshouse Studio, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The objective is for students to design and create objects and activities that will offer choices and variables for Asian elephants Emily and Ruth. Students work with a biologist and animal trainers to study animal behavior in order to design and produce full-scale functional toys for elephant enrichment.