At the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo, we have a behavioural husbandry program. Animals at a zoo benefit from enrichment and training to stimulate mental and physical activity and promote appropriate levels of natural behaviours based on our knowledge of the animal’s habits in the wild. On a limited budget, the zoo keeping staff at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo has to provide an enriching environment for the animals. This animal enrichment can be provided in numerous ways:
1. Physical environment/exhibit design: good exhibit design provides for the basic needs for our animals.
a. Pool for the Brown Bears
b. Vines and trees for the animals
2. Routine husbandry/feeding or foraging: creative feeding strategies that encourage foraging/hunting behaviour can enrich an animal’s life.
a. Food scattered or hidden in enclosure
b. Puzzle feeders that require time to access their food or treat
3. Social groupings: social groupings should resemble those observed in the wild as animals groom, play and court according to a social hierarchy.
a. Housing animals with same species
b. Housing animals with like species
4. Novel objects/devices: novel objects or devices can provide mental stimulation for longer periods of time for our animals.
a. Introduction of browse with lots of foliage for the monkeys
b. Antler shed in carnivore enclosures
c. Catnip balls with the cats
5. Sensory stimulation (visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile): sensory abilities are crucial for the survival skills of all animals. Developing and enhancing these skills is possible in captivity through enrichment.
a. Using different scents to peak interest
b. Large-scale objects for tactile stimulation
c. Use of music for birds and rabbits
d. Use of mirrors with parrots
6. Behavioural training: Positive Reinforcement Training is a valuable technique for animal care and management that has positive benefits for the animals, zookeepers and veterinarians. The goal is to have the animal voluntarily participate in its care.
a. Red Panda accepts vaccinations voluntarily
b. Crate training for transportation
This is where you can help!
The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo are selling animal prints with the goal to help fund new and enhance the behavioural husbandry program. These prints are on sale at the Paws Inn Gift Shop from April 1st to October 31st. If you have already purchased one, we thank you for your support! The zoo hopes to add new prints each season. Stop into the Paws Inn today and check out your favourites.
An example of an enrichment activity with the cougars and their catnip ball: