Animals, whether it be at the zoo or at home, have needs beyond the basics. Social interaction, play and training improve your pet’s overall health and well-being. As with zoo enrichment, get the facts first on your pet’s natural behaviors to help develop creative ideas and appropriate activities for your pet. Remember, the best enrichment is simply to spend as much quality time with your pets as possible. This is enriching for both you and your pet!
Dogs are pack hunters — social predators. Focus on fun strategies to stimulate the sensory and predatory behaviors associated with hunting as well as opportunities for positive social interaction. Toys and exercise are extremely easy ways to enrich a dog. There are literally thousands of commercially available dog toys available, or it can be as simple as a stick. A few ideas we use for our wolves and foxes: perfumes, paper bags or boxes, bones, antlers, hides, piñatas and leaf piles.
Cats are intelligent, specialized carnivores with highly developed senses. Recent studies have shown that, unlike some exotic felines, house cats can be extremely social animals. Toys that provide movement and stimulate their sense of smell will attract the most interest. For example: feather chasers, catnip or even paper wads. Some Zoo ideas: fresh herbs, spices, snake sheds, blood-cicles or bouillon gelatin jigglers.