Animal Enrichment versus Routine
Is it Enrichment?
"Enrichment" - `the act of making rich; that which enriches'.
I've been thinking about this definition for some time. It is clear to me that within the `zoo' sense that any "enrichment" offered/presented more than once or twice a week ceases to become what it was intended to be. It becomes "routine". That is - `any regular course of action or procedure adhered to by order or by force of habit'.
Routine, of course, is important, and I am not knocking it, but it should not be dressed up in or promoted in the "Enrichment" guise.
A dog which is taken for a walk every day and chases a ball clearly enjoys and gains both mental and physical benefits from the exercise. But, as it is the same every day it is routine and not enrichment. A dog which is confined to a pen nine days in ten would be enriched by a walk (even without the ball) on the tenth day even though it may be part of a routine.
Static "Enrichment" equipment within the zoo enclosure simply becomes part of the cage furniture, ornamentation or decoration, nonetheless important, but dead as "Enrichment" per se.
Identical daily methods of feeding enrichment simply becomes `feeding' no matter how well stage managed it may be. Enrichment needs work, imagination, dedication and time. It is heartening to see this being recognised by forward thinking zoos who have increased staffing levels to take this important `pillar' of zoo management on board. More need to follow suit. "Enrichment" is for our charges, the animals, pure and simple.....not the public, not the keepers, not the management, and not to show anybody how clever we are. I believe curators, keepers and zoo inspectors along with others should make a distinction between enrichment and routine. Give credits for both but not one at the expense of the other.
If your zoo claims to have an enrichment programme in place which consists of the animals implementing the same thing in day in and day out say "fine, you have a routine...but what are you doing for enrichment?"