, also called behavioral enrichment
, refers to the practice of providing animals under managed care with environmental stimuli. The goal of environmental enrichment is to improve an animal's quality of life by increasing physical activity, stimulating natural behaviors, and preventing or reducing stereotypical behaviors
. In principle, enrichment can be beneficial to any relatively intelligent animal, including mammals
, and even octopuses
Environmental enrichment may be offered to animals in the following situations:
Types of enrichment
Any novel stimulus which evokes an animal's interest can be considered enriching, including natural and artificial objects, scents, novel foods, and different methods of preparing foods (for example, frozen in ice). Puzzles
that require an animal to solve simple problems in order to access food or other rewards are considered enrichment. An animal's environment may also be enriched by the presence of other animals of the same or different species. A stimulus can be considered enriching even if the animal's reaction to it is negative, such as with unpleasant scents, although stimuli that evoke extreme stress or fear should be avoided, as well as stimuli that can be harmful to the animal. Enrichment can also be auditory which may include animal sounds and music. Many people also believe that a behavior modification program (animal training) can also be enriching to a captive animal.
Enclosures in modern zoos are often designed with enrichment in mind. For example, the Denver Zoo's exhibit Predator Ridge allows different African carnivore species to rotate among several enclosures, providing the animals with a larger environment and exposing them to each others' scents.
The 1985 amendments to the United States Animal Welfare Act
amendments directed the Secretary of Agriculture
to establish regulations to provide an adequate physical environment to promote the psychological well-being of primates
and exercise for dogs
. Subsequent standards for nonhuman primate environmental enhancement (including provisions for social grouping and environmental enrichment) are included under Section 3.81 in the Animal Welfare Regulations (9 CFR
). Concepts relating to behavioral needs and environmental enrichment are also incorporated into the standards for marine, flying, and aquatic mammals.