Are you interested in knowing the importance of environmental enrichment in animals kept in captivity? In this article, we show you some of the characteristics in the case of wild cats.
Environmental enrichment in large cats is very diverse. It ranges from improvements in facilities to the application of games or feeding guidelines. In this article, we show you everything you need to know about it.
Environmental enrichment is the improvement of the quality of life of animals. Enhancement is by both physical and sensory, of a group of animals in captivity.
With this, we managed to reduce negative behaviors, gestural tics, or violent acts against themselves or the group. Through environmental enrichment, we offer regular stimuli for animals to retain their ability to adapt to changes in the environment without stress, as they would in nature.
Why Is Environmental Enrichment Applied To Wild Cats In Zoological Nuclei?
Conversely, felines do need certain things. Such as little free time, spend their lives looking for food, defending their territory, rivaling other animals of the group in times of zeal, fleeing from predators, etc. That is, they spend all their energy on these tasks, and they occupy most of their time and effort.
Eventually, all zoos must include enrichment resources to maintain a balance between the feline’s free time in captivity and occupations, which improves his mental and physical state. It is achieved by providing a complex and unpredictable environment and favoring behavioral models that would occur in nature. It will enhance the welfare of the animal and its physical form.
Also, for the enrichment to fulfill its objective, the games and proposals must be alternated, for which it is necessary to create an appropriate calendar and, thus, the surprise effect and the novelty remain.
What Happens When There Is No Environmental Enrichment?
Consequently, the most typical abnormal behavior in captivity is stereotypes. These are fixed actions in time and space and without any apparent objective or function.
Some examples in big cats are:
- The repetitive walks.
- The coprophagia.
- The excess of grooming.
Types Of Environmental Enrichment In Wild Cats
It includes the use of:
- Ponds, lakes, or pools to cool off.
- Green areas with plants that recreate their natural environment, which is used for shadows or to hide food.
- Accessories such as ropes, vines, logs, stones that move from the place, put on, and take off. Thus we encourage the instinct for exploration and force the animal to move around different parts of the enclosure.
Environmental Enrichment In Wild Cats Through Management And Care
- Create new feeding protocols, such as the use of manipulated feeders so that the cat has to make an effort to get the food.
- Changes in feeding schedules.
- Eventually, hide part of the food, distribute it in sections throughout the installation. With this, we manage to keep the animal entertained and stimulate its senses.
- Interaction and training sessions, use of positive reinforcement techniques.