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Behavior Enrichment Program

Behavior Enrichment Program

If human beings wanted to live in the wild, there would be much preparation involved. Likewise, there must be a great deal preparation and consideration for wild animals to live with human beings. Initiative and research are needed to allow wild animals to live with human beings by providing them with an environment with similar conditions to their original habitats. We have not neglected our duty to make efforts for human beings and wild animals to live together successfully.

[photo]Behavior Enrichment Program

What is Enrichment?

It is a program developed to encourage the wild animals in the zoo to behave as they do in nature and reduce abnormal behavior by providing them with a similar environment to that of nature. This is called the Behavior Enrichment Program.

Animals in the wild spend most of their time and energy looking for food, keeping their territory, evading predators, and building homes. On the other hand, in the limited space of the zoo where they cannot be in contact with real nature, animals are provided with a regular diet and exhibited near other animals that they would never meet in the wild.

The environment that animals have in the zoo is greatly different from that of nature, which causes a large amount of stress and various abnormal behavior patterns, the most common of which is called Stereotypical Behavior. This defines all abnormal behavior such as repeating the same action in the same space or rocking the body forward and backward like a dance, and includes self-inflicted injuries such as biting limbs and pulling out hair or feathers. In addition to those abnormal behaviors, obesity is another serious problem for animals in the zoo since it may cause various kinds of diseases. As a result, we’ve developed the ‘Behavior Enrichment Program’ so that we may encourage the wild animals in the zoo to behave as they would in nature and reduce abnormal behavior by providing them with a similar environment to that of nature.

  • [photo]Behavior Enrichment Program

    Play structures using wood and iron constructions

    Enrichment of Display Environment

    This technique is used to enrich the animals’ behavior by changing the physical and environmental factors in the exhibition halls.

    • Swimming pools or mud pits where they can take a mud bath
    • Sunlight-shelter facilities using living or artificial plants
    • Ropes connected with each other placed in different heights and locations
    • Floor materials designed to stimulate their sense of touch
      (Floor materials to induce innate digging behaviors)
  • [photo]Behavior Enrichment Program
    Food Enrichment

    In order to encourage their innate food-seeking behaviors, we use the Food Enrichment Program.

    It is effective to supply food with unique textures or flavors, hide food in places where they cannot find it easily, or place food in a puzzle box so that they must exert effort to get it out of the box.

  • [photo]Behavior Enrichment Program

    Giraffes living in a group

    Social Enrichment

    If animals have a tendency to live in groups in the wild, it is appropriate to have them build a proper social structure for themselves.

    • We try to have them get along with the same species to build a social group.
    • In the case that individual animals are outcast from the groups, we shelter and feed them separately.
    • Displaying animals with other species (but it should reflect the true natural environment.)
  • [photo]Behavior Enrichment Program

    A Japanese monkey showing interest in perfume sprayed on a bag

    Sense Enrichment

    No matter where they live, on the land, under the ground, in the trees or in the water, all animals have their own strategies for survival. Most predators depend on their sight more than other senses when looking for prey. On the other hand, some other animals look for food by using their acute sense of hearing.

    In addition, there are some other cases where animals use the senses of smell and touch, such as when parent animals constantly lick their offspring so that they may recognize the body smell or odor from their parents in order to create an intimate relationship.

    • Sense of Smell : We scatter various kinds of spices or fragrances around the exhibition area.
    • Sense of Hearing : We have the animals listen to the cries of predators, other animals of the same species or other sounds of nature.
    • Sense of sight : By providing them with shelves of different heights to sit on, we give them the chance to observe the movements of spectators or other animals.