Environment enrichment


Environment enrichment as means of uplifting the quality of living of the animals in the Zoo

There are some problems that often arise in captive environment which animals are never confronted with in the wild.  While living at the Zoo, the animals are not searching for food or hunting, tracking a prey down, running after it or struggle with it.  There is no need for them to be hiding or running away from the enemies, no need to be aware of the situation in order to survive.  A lot of things that correspond to their natural way of life in the wild and everything that species were adapting themselves to for many centuries is simply absent in the captivity.  Without the ability of species-specific behaviour to be demonstrated the animals become bored and feel discomfort.

Natural environment could be partly imitated by the sophisticated interior of the enclosure.  For that purpose the enclosures could be fitted out with natural elements (logs, snags, stones and pools/wet areas) and also with special equipment (shelves, climbing equipment, ropes, hammocks, artificial mountains and caves).  Even restricted area can make an environment comfortable for the animals when enriched by various shelters, spots for resting and observing and intricate relief.

Unfortunately life in captive environment is very monotonous for the animals and such important attributes of their life in the wild like complexity and variability of natural environment is more difficult to provide.  Life of the animals in the Zoo has lack of diversity and unpredictability which can lead to some psychological disorders.  The other problem is that animals in captivity have complete lack of freedom. Often they are not able to avoid interactions with aggressive members of a group or hide from constant attention of the visitors.  All these can make animals nervous and even experience chronical stress.
Lack of freedom in captive environment the animals are trying to compensate by manipulating the visitors and the keepers. The animals can show stubbornness by the refusing to move to the spare enclosure for theirs to be cleaned. Another new habit which is formed in the captive environment is begging visitors for food. It is a very existing process for the animals as it requires a lot of ingenuity.

Moscow Zoo is working on different methods to compensate the lack of freedom for the animals. The Zoo is trying to improve the design of the enclosures, to use different variety of feed or changing the husbandry methods when animals show disagreement. Different variety of forage can make routine procedure into an interesting occupation and allows the animals to show some characteristics of behaviour which are peculiar to their behaviour in the wild.
To help animals for their possibilities in controlling their own environment to be widen we give animals the objects which can be manipulated, destroyed and arranged in the enclosure in their own way. We obtain toys for them, but different kind of toys. Not so long ago the Zoo had obtained a lot of orange parking cones, river boats'' shock-absorbers and other special toys. We also use fire-hoses, outer tires, plastic barrels, jerricans and many other things one can not usually obtain in a toy shop.
We would appreciate everybody who have some interesting ideas or any information about the manufacturers of inexpensive or rejected produce. We also would appreciate your donations for the environment enrichment of our animals.

Please, help us to make life for the zoo animals more exiting!
For any further information, please call Sergey Popov; Elena Neprintseva; Irina Voschanova on (495) 254 23 04, or e-mail at moscowzoosci@gmail.com