Animals in captivity don't have to hunt, forage, escape danger, find shelter or search for a mate. But this means it is imperative for caretakers to provide enough stimulation and opportunities to work for food, to fill the animal's day.
Many experts agree that an effective enrichment program is one of the most important factors contributing to good welfare.
The above video shows some artificial plants that have small fish tightly hidden inside. This group of dolphins has even developed a foraging method to get the fish- by beating their tails to waft the fish out. A brilliant example of stimulating enrichment from Kolmårdens Djurpark!
However, if you've worked with animals in captivity, you'll know that providing stimulating enrichment isn't a simple task. Enrichment items and devices need to be safe, variable, novel at times, and tailored to the individual animals. And ideally records should be taken on the animals' engagement so you can evaluate how successful the item was! Now submerge yourself into a dolphin or pinniped's world, and the above tasks have become even harder. Or imagine you are trying to cognitively challenge animals that can fly. What with all the other duties that caretakers have to complete on a daily basis, it can be really hard to find the time to think about, source materials for and build enrichment items.
... Enter IdeaBox!
WHAT IS IDEABOX?
AWE's IdeaBox is a catalogue of stimulating enrichment ideas for cetaceans, pinnipeds, and birds with accompanying details on how to source, design, and build them.
DOES IT INCLUDE ALL ENRICHMENT?
Only innovative and composite items are called for in AWE's IdeaBox. Therefore, while we certainly understand simple objects can be enriching for animals, we're only looking for devices that are more complex e.g. several items joined together to elicit cognitive challenges, or devices leading to multi-step behaviours. We believe these are the ideas that need sharing!
The catalogue is free of charge you can download the PDF below and visit the IdeaBox Species sites using the menu on this page.
Since the IdeaBox is open access, note that if you submit an enrichment idea and its details any media and information you have given may be shared publicly.
HOW TO SUBMIT AN IDEA
Submitting an idea is easy! Fill out the submission form below and send it back to us (email address on the form), then wait for approval. This is to check that nobody has already submitted the idea, and that there is enough evidence to show the item proposed can be made and used by the animals in the described fashion. Once your idea has been added and the collection has been updated our end, we'll send you the catalogue!
Click here to download a PDF with more information on the IdeaBox project, including examples of enrichment we're looking for.
Click here to download the IdeaBox item submission form!
ENOUGH TALK... WANT TO SEE THE CATALOGUE?
The catalogue is open access and we welcome anyone and everyone to have a look. There are 2 ways of accessing it: online or PDF. Use the button below to download the PDF version.
To view the online version of the catalogue, which includes videos and extra details for each item, you can click on the species of interest below or by using the menu at the top of the page.