Anonymous asked: Hi! I'm a zookeeper from Florida and i was wondering if you have any ideas for enrichment for hoofstock....
As most hoofstock species are flighty and neurotic, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution when introducing new enrichment. Anything new is potentially terrifying, so — baby steps! (And of course always get your supervisor’s and/or veterinarian’s stamp of approval before giving new enrichment, follow protocol, yadda yadda common sense disclaimer.) Here are some things we use at my zoo.
Food: Unseasoned air-popped popcorn; wheat/corn/rice Chex cereal; sweet feed; compressed alfalfa cubes; sugar free Kool-Aid; sugar free Jell-O; molasses; produce.
Manipulative/Environmental: For a lot of hoofstock, just seeing something new in their stall or yard — a ball, a traffic cone, chalk drawings on the walls — can be very enriching. You can also hang things from the ceiling, and you can put treats or part of their diet in just about anything. Try stuffing some hay in traffic cones, cardboard boxes, or empty paper grain bags. Cut a few holes in a plastic barrel, fill it with treats, and hang it from the ceiling with a chain to a height that the animals can reach to eat from it and beat it up. Feed them out in an empty hard plastic kiddie pool instead of in their bowls. Make a puzzle feeder by cutting small holes in a plastic water cooler bottle or hollow plastic ball, filling it with treats, and letting them roll it around.
Sensory: Christmas lights (outside the stall/inaccessible to the animals, obviously); music or CDs of animal/nature sounds; spices; perfume.
Giraffes! …are super weird and like to lick everything, so give them some fun stuff to lick. Tie plastic objects together with a rope or chain and hang it for them (we have one that’s just a rope with a bunch of plastic juice-pitcher lids tied to it, and the giraffes love it). Make hanging puzzle feeders by cutting holes in PVC pipe and plastic water cooler bottles. Mount scrub brushes on the walls for them to scratch against. Our giraffe are also oddly fascinated when we play DVDs on a TV right outside their stall. (Important: remember the heightened risk of strangulation for giraffes with hanging enrichment, and be extra careful to monitor them and make sure everything is hung safely.)
That’s all off the top of my head but there’s tons more! Anyone have other suggestions?
(Edit: I forgot browse for browsers!! Lots of leafy branches!! Also logs, logs are great.)