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Environmental Enrichment

a small brown animal

Each day in the life of a wild animal is complex. Survival depends on establishing and defending a territory, resting, and one of the most complicated and important things an animal must do: obtaining nutrition. Many avian and mammalian species have been extensively studied and proven to spend 60-80% of every day in the wild searching for food. The means by which this is accomplished differ for every species, predator or prey, but always requires great intelligence and persistence.

Here at the zoo, in our naturalistic setting, visitors can witness these elusive wild animals using their physical abilities and intellectual brilliance to find and consume food items.

In a project that began ten years ago, the staff here at York’s Wild Kingdom began trying ways to promote natural foraging activity as the primary form of enrichment, while still maintaining animals at a respectful distance with our hands-off approach. As a result, we are proud to show our guests many enclosures where traditional food dishes have been replaced with something new, called foraging units. These compact, synthetic “ecosystems” promote natural foraging activity, and encourage parrots, primates, and many other species to use their intelligence to work for their food. This is something truly unique to our zoo, and is not to be missed!

a close up of a green structure