At the Toledo Zoo, we are deeply committed to caring for animals. Our enrichment programs are designed to stimulate natural behaviors for our animals. Our veterinary staff also has a busy schedule keeping our animals healthy, and you can find out below just what it takes to feed a whole zoo in one year!
What is enrichment?
Enrichment is part of the Zoo’s mission of inspiring others to join us in caring for animals and conserving the natural world.
Enrichment is the addition or modification of an animal’s environment that encourages the animals to make choices, exhibit natural, or species-appropriate behavior, presents mental challenges, encourages physical activity/exercise and enhances the animal’s overall well being.
An animal’s life can be enriched in a variety of ways. Enrichment often takes the form of modifications to exhibits. This provides animals with additional three-dimensional space for climbing and resting . It also provides visual barriers from cagemates as well as the public, which can help to alleviate social pressures. Viewing platforms can be built into exhibits, allowing carnivores the opportunity to view typical prey items in other areas of the Zoo.
The YouTube video above shows some enrichment items being prepared, and various animals interacting with enrichment items in their exhibits.
So why is enrichment so important?
In the wild, animals spend much of their time hunting for food, building nests and warding off predators. The animals at the Toledo Zoo are provided with the highest quality of care. This means they are fed well balanced diets that include ample amounts of food, they receive regular medical exams, and they are free from predation. Often, that very quality of care can discourage the animals from exercising some of their natural behaviors and talents, because they’re no longer necessary. A well rounded enrichment program can provide the animals with activities that simulate these natural behaviors. More specifically, a well thought out enrichment program can also
• Increase animal activity and exercise
• Decrease the occurrence of stereotypical and other aberrant behavior by directing animal energy into more productive activities
• Provide the animals with choices and control over certain aspects of their environment (what to eat, temperature and lighting gradients, whom to interact with, etc.)
• Improve breeding success and conservation efforts by housing animals in appropriate social groups that allow for normal physical and psychological development
• Increase visitor appreciation by displaying animals in stimulating and naturalistic environments, allowing guests to view the animals in situations that mimic those of their wild counterparts.
Enrichment is an integral part of daily animal care. That animals need stimulation and opportunities to make choices in their environments is no longer a question. It is now a new challenge facing animal caregivers to provide the animals with environments that meet all of their physical and psychological needs. Enrichment comes in many forms, whether variety within their habitat, food, scents, items to manipulate, investigation, and even animal training.
The Toledo Zoo’s Commissary department is responsible for ordering, preparing, and distributing food to all of the animals at the Toledo Zoo.
In one year they will deliver:
• 1,000 bushels of fruit and veggies
• 30,000 heads of lettuce
• 1 half ton (1,000 pounds) of grapes
• 2.25 tons of celery
• 5 tons of carrots
• 5 tons of monkey chow
• 8 tons of bird food
• 12 tons of carnivore diet
• Over 35 tons of fish
Would you like to contribute to the care of your favorite Zoo animal?
Our Zoo PAL Animal Adoption program is the perfect opportunity for any individual, family, or organization to sponsor a Zoo animal of their choice for one year. Your contribution also entitles you to a Zoo PAL certificate with a photo of your animal and other Zoo PAL gifts. Learn more about Zoo PAL
The Toledo Zoo’s Veterinary Department is responsible for treating animals that become ill or injured. Sometimes animals can be treated in their exhibits or holding areas, and sometimes they are brought to the Zoo’s animal hospital where they receive excellent care.
Here are some of the responsibilities of the Veterinary staff:
• Preventive Medicine
• Quarantine and Preshipment Testing
• Medical and Surgical Cases
• Nutrition Oversight & Management
• Oversee Browse Program & Pest Management
• Nuisance Animal Control (Cats, Raccoons)
• Animal Training for Medical Procedures
• Zoonosis Liaison
• Training of Veterinary and Technician Students
• Input on Exhibit Design
• Correspondence, Communication, & Meetings
• Publications, Presentations, and Tours
• Paperwork (Medical records, transfers, protocols, etc)
• Below are the numbers from just one year of activity in the Veterinary Department:
• 168 Mammal Exams/Procedures
• 493 Avian Exams/Procedures
• 121 Reptile Exams/Procedures
• 72 Amphibian Exams/Procedures
• 12 Piscine Exams/Procedures
• 360 Anesthesias
• 30 Biopsies
• 2200 Prescriptions Written
• 396 Necropsies
• 282 Avian and Reptile CBCs
• 1700 Fecal Tests
Watch the video below to see an example of how much care is given to our animals. The video features our rhinos, Lulu and Sam:
How do you do that?
Several Toledo Zoo are involved in training animals. This training is not for entertainment; it is for the animals’ well-being. Animals are taught behavior patterns that might help them at feeding time, but also so that they can be inspected or even treated inside of their exhibit.
The lemur pictured above is being trained so the staff can do check-ups or use an ultrasound.
Like any training, the key is to make the animal’s participation positive and rewarding. By going slowly and rewarding each step of the way, we can routinely take excellent care of our animals.