Although there are many things that go into an enrichment program in order to make it successful over the long term we believe that these things can be boiled down into 5 key elements.
Natural History– A thorough understanding of an animals natural history will allow you to create species specific enrichment opportunities resulting in the display of natural behaviors.
Challenge– An animal must be continuously presented with challenging scenarios that mimic some of the challenges they would face in the wild.
Variation and Variety– In order to keep an enrichment item challenging and enriching, there must be a wide variety of enrichment presented coupled with adequate variation of enrichment.
Novelty– Completely new enrichment items should be presented to the animal as much as possible, how often will vary by species.
Result Based– Keeping track of specific enrichment goals in an enrichment program is key to its success and will allow you to continuously evolve the enrichment program over time.
When all of these elements come together you will have a robust and goal based enrichment program that will be highly successful over the long term.
For a more detailed dive into these elements, check out our post: A modern guide to environmental enrichment in zoos and aquariums.