The Importance Of Different Types Of Enrichment For Elephants: [Essay Example], 881 words GradesFixer
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The Importance of Different Types of Enrichment for Elephants

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Animal Enrichment, is actions in which allows different species to show their natural behaviour. There are many different types of enrichment for animals, some of these include sensory enrichments for example smell and taste. Also includes food enrichments, which creates a way to challenge the animal for them to receive their food. Another is toy enrichment which can include the animal using parts of their body. Environmental is using different objects such as swings. The last one is behavioural which increases behaviour choices.

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Elephants are very sociable animals that like to have all kinds of fun. As elephants are herbivores, one main type is food enrichment. Elephants each large amounts of food each day an example being browse this is an essential food item as it is nature and elephants prefer it. It also helps keeps them busy for many hours, as they strip of the bark. Altering the way in which food is presented this is an easy way to keep elephants busy. As elephants sleep very little, they spend a significant amount of active time. A good way to challenge these animals is allowing them to forage for their food such as hanging food up high by placing it in buckets from the ceiling. This stimulates the elephants both mentally (like figuring out how to get at the food by pushing the tire in a certain way) and physically (it’s a great workout for their trunk and neck muscles!). As elephants consume vast amounts of food day to day, a disadvantage of this is that it can be very cost worthy. However, providing elephants with different types of food, although pricey. An advantage of this is it keeps them busy and helps maintain their natural behaviour and keep them healthy to prevent obesity. Food enrichment is beneficial to elephants as it’s a way of challenging them, as in the wild elephants may have to travel far to find food and water, so by using items such as puzzle feeders it helps challenge them as if they were in the wild.

Furthermore, Socialisation and training enrichment are important, in maintaining a relationship with keeper and animal, also helps maintain normal animal behaviour. Social interaction is a critical component of caring for elephants. Elephants can be trained to participate in exercise routines including activities such as stretching and staff-directed walking. Exercise programs have been implemented, in part, because zoo elephants are prone to developing pododermatitis and degenerative bone disease. So therefore, an advantage of training enrichment is it prevents obesity and healthy problems such as bone diseases. Elephants are trained to partake in daily foot and skin care checks. An example of training with elephants is called target training. Such as taking a tool then using this tool such as a bamboo pole, then the elephant will be trained to make contact with the target. Once the elephant makes contact with the tool, they will earn a treat such as a banana. This reinforces behaviour, and maintains or creates a healthy relationship with keeper and elephants. Social enrichment is important as it can encourage a range of behaviours such as breeding. Enrichment can also be important in reducing abnormal behaviours. If an animal becomes bored or stressed, this can lead to more serious behavioural or health problems. Training enrichment is beneficial for elephants as, it helps protect them from health-related problems. It also helps to boost a relationship with keeps and elephants, as the elephants through training learn to trust the keepers, also again maintaining healthy behaviour.

Although food enrichment is important so is cognitive and toy enrichment as it keep elephants busy, if not kept busy this can lead to aggressive and abnormal behaviour. An example of this is in the enclosure having well planned rockwork or faux termite mounds. These provide great places for elephants to scratch, thus maintaining healthy skin, or giving them tyres to play with also helps to provide good mental and physical health. Mud baths are quite popular with elephants as on hot days it allows them to cool down. Captive animals tend to live in highly predictable and structured environments where they are challenged infrequently or inappropriately an example of a cognitive enrichment is puzzle feeders. As though they keep animals busy for longer, it has been well-documented that primates can lose interest in puzzle-feeders within several hours of exposure. Another disadvantage of cognitive enrichment is there has to be a lot of time and money into keeping up with the means of the elephants. Cognitive enrichment is beneficial for elephants as, it’s another way to challenge and maintain animal behaviour.

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To conclude I think although all types of enrichment are important, that training and food enrichment are most beneficial for elephants. As training enrichment, allows for elephants to maintain being physically healthy but food enrichment also allows for elephants to maintain being mentally healthy. As training the elephants allows them go through health checks with keepers, also allows them to be prevented from being obese as keepers can take them on supervised walks around enclosures. Food enrichment keeps elephants both mentally and physically healthy as food is key to a healthy balanced diet, as food enrichment such as puzzle feeders help to challenge them as they would be challenged in the wild to find food and water. 

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