Considering The Complete Experience

Considering The Complete Experience


Alright, I gotta say it, I’m the only thing
standing between you and lunch, so bear with me. Thanks for the invite. I’m really excited
to be here in a different environment, talking about the things that we talk about every
day. The first thing I really wanna talk about though is the reason that we’re all here,
what our goal is. When you think back to what the goal is for all animals that we take care
of, it’s really to increase the welfare that they have, on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
basis, so this is the definition that AZA goes by, this is what San Diego Zoo conforms
to and that’s that welfare is a balance of the physical, mental and emotional state of
an animal and it’s on a continuum, from good to poor and that little bar can move, like
I said hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute, year-to-year and that’s what we have to keep track of. We’re constantly trying to fine tune just
like an old stereo to get that perfect balance of all of these different factors in order
to maintain the welfare of the animals we care for. So going back historically, still
can’t use the mouse, here we go, enrichment kind of evolved as something to do, right?
There’s a whole industry that evolved around enrichment as the object. A plastic item that
was put in with an animal who otherwise might not have anything to do. Since then, we have
really gone towards a behavior-based approach so this is something that we’re working on.
We do it really well in some areas and some zoos and some aquariums. Other areas, we’re
still trying to get to this point, but caretakers, when they go in every day, they said, “Okay,
I have to check the box. I have to do enrichment today. What am I gonna give the animal, what’s
the object?” and that’s what they think of first and what we really wanna do is change
it to, what behavior do I wanna promote today, right? If you look at the picture on the left, that’s
a bunch of plastic items that are perfect for elephants, you can drill holes in them,
you can stuff pellet in them, you can give it to the elephants, they’ll roll them around
and get their food. Every single one of those is the same thing, even if it’s a different
shape, the animal has to move it and food is delivered. But if you look at the picture on the right
where they thought about, what’s the behavior I wanna promote? I want my animal to have
to perhaps problem-solve, learn a new skill, have to use their physical abilities to get
to the food. It’s a little hard to see the rope in this picture but that ball was suspended
in a tree. The elephant knew there was food in it, from experience. He had to pull on
the rope and not only pull on the rope with his trunk, but also step on it with his foot,
and then he had to do that again. It was a multiple-step process. It was a cognitive
layering of the problem-solving approach. So this is where we’re trying to start with.
If you look at it from the perspective of inputs and outcomes where input is the enrichment
item and the outcomes are the behaviors, you can think of starting from all of the different
outcomes you want to elicit for that day or week and that’s what drives the inputs. So
each of these outcomes can drive different inputs, right? And you can see some of the
inputs will have the same outcome but it’s really where all of these outcomes, where
all of these behaviors intersect and work together that give you that experience. This is really similar to what Pat was talking
about with the behavior or with the behavior program approach, right? You’re not looking
at the enrichment item, but you’re looking at the animal’s entire experience and when
you flip that switch between “I have to do enrichment today” to “What do I want my animal
to experience during the day?” It can have profound effects. So at San Diego Zoo and
also AZA has adopted the five opportunities to thrive. This might look familiar to some
of you but basically, it’s our answer to the five freedoms, which I’m sure most of you
are familiar with. Probably about eight years ago now, Greg Vicino
who’s at San Diego Zoo and Lance Miller who used to be at San Diego and is now at Brookfield,
developed the opportunities to thrive, because they were looking at the five freedoms and
what they realized was, they’re only accounting for negative indicators of welfare: Freedom
from thirst, freedom from pain, freedom from hunger and what they really wanted to focus
on were the positive indicators of welfare. What are the things we wanna promote? Not
just the things that we don’t wanna see, but what do we want to promote? I’m gonna go through each of these five opportunities
as kind of a guiding principle for how we take care of our animals and give a few examples,
and then at the end, I’ll give you a couple of case studies and instances where we’ve
used these guiding principles in order to enhance the welfare of our animals. The first is the opportunity for a thoughtfully-presented
well-balanced diet. This of course, includes the nutrition value of the food, but what
we really focus on is the “thoughtfully-presented”. This is the easiest and also the hardest opportunity
to meet because most of our animals spend a significant part of their day, processing,
foraging and consuming food. And those who don’t spend a significant amount of their
day doing this are carnivores, where it’s usually a very fast action where they would
be stalking, pouncing and manipulating prey in that instance, so to replicate that in
a managed care environment can be very hard. We have found a couple of home runs. You can
see this picture up here might look familiar, that’s actually commercially-available slow
dog food feeder. This is what you buy for your dog when they scarf up all their food
and you want them to slow down. But what we’ve realized is it works really well for giraffe,
because the dog food feeder mimics the thorns that they might have to wrap their tongues
around in order to obtain their food. We’re constantly looking for these really quick
home runs that we can use and incorporate into our husbandry in order to make our husbandry
enriching, and not have to add something different every day. Here’s an example of a carnivore home run.
These are our polar bears. On the left is a female, on the right is a male and by just
simply attaching the shank bone that they get twice a week to a bungee in their enclosure,
it allows them to develop muscle that they might not otherwise develop. So in the past,
they could be given their shank bone or whatever sort of whole food item they were given that
day, they might go over to a corner, process it, that would be the end of it but you can
see on the video on the left, watch her muscles as she’s pulling on that. She was not gonna
get that kind of activity anywhere else and the male on the right, you can see as he’s
standing up, is building those muscles of his abdominal wall. We’re not only focusing on how they’re eating
their food, how they’re processing it but how physically they’re capable to do that.
And it also can account for problem-solving opportunities. We hung it from the ceiling
for one of our females who is significantly shorter than the male and she actually moved
that firehose hammock bed over under it in order to access the meat so we’re also focusing
on those cognitive skills. Here’s another home run. These are suspense
feeding dishes. It doesn’t sound very exciting but if you’ve ever worked with arboreal species,
it’s really hard to figure out how to distribute the food up in the trees or up in the air,
and we found that these reptile dishes with a few modifications, a piece of rebar bent
over, create these really great opportunities for our animals who would normally be doing
this in the wild. This is a red ruffed lemur. Sorry, the video’s
a little fuzzy but you can see, she’s exhibiting this great behavior that you would expect
to see from a red ruffed lemur, and that’s suspensory feeding. We’re able to play to
her abilities, both physically and cognitively in order to give her that opportunity, versus
simply eating out of maybe a silver bowl or eating out of a couple of scattered piles
of food. Alright, our second opportunity is the opportunity
to self-maintain. If you think about this in the sense of a rhino having a mud wallow
or elephants having dirt. In order for them to maintain their own skin health, for a bird,
it would be their own feather or for reptiles, their own scale condition. And the really
important message in this is that, it’s in the absence of a keeper. We’re not talking
about keepers going in and doing foot maintenance on elephants every day, asking our elephants
to walk from A to B in order to maintain health joint, but really, what are the opportunities
that the animals have when we’re not there? How are they active participants in their
own environment so they can maintain on their own? And sometimes we don’t even know what
that means. We know that putting in mud wallows or dirt like I said for some species, is appropriate.
Providing brushes for other species that they can rub against. Have any of you seen the Happy Cow brush?
Yeah? I see some nods out there, so it’s a commercially available brush that rotates
for cows that are in livestock or dairy conditions, and they can go over and actually get a little
brush massage, and they found that it increases their well-being in those sort of situations.
But one instance that we didn’t really know this would happen, was with Lulu, our Trumpeter
Hornbill. This is a plant that was bought for enrichment. It’s a Eugenia tree that was
placed in her enclosure, it had been in there for about two weeks. As far as we knew, she
really hadn’t interacted with it at all and the keeper saw that the plant looked like
it needed to be sprayed off, it was perhaps a little dusty, a little dry, and so he sprayed
off the plant and immediately after he did that, this is what happened. Do you know what’s going on here, anyone?
Yeah, she’s cleaning herself. So this is something that they would do in the wild after it rained,
they would rub on the wet foliage and this is the way that she would take a bath. We
had always provided her with a pan of water to take a bath because that’s how we take
a bath, so why wouldn’t she wannna take a bath like that? But we found when we were
able to actually just hose off a plant, she knew what to do. She was able to maintain
this behavior, maintain her feather condition on her own and the really cool thing is we
have some that are on exhibit and after it rained, which before this year, didn’t happen
very often in San Diego, our Trumpeter Hornbills on exhibit were doing this exact same behavior,
so this was another home run for us. Another instance where we talk about animals
self-maintaining is with UV lighting. There’s a ton of research out there about the importance
of UV lighting with reptiles, amphibians. They’re starting to be more, talking about
with primates, particularly with marmosets and tamarins, how important the UV exposure
is for them, but what we don’t always remember is that the UV gradient can vary very quickly.
If you look at the schematic, you can see there’s one perch for this guy in Zone Two
of the UV lighting and that’s really his only option, so he doesn’t have the option to get
those full rays at 15, perhaps he has an option to go to the ground to get that half, but
really, we’re not providing him the appropriate resources in order to get what he needs and
it’s not because we don’t care or we don’t think we’re doing the right thing, part of
it is just knowledge, communication. Making sure we’re looking at each enclosure with
a critical eye and providing them these correct opportunities. Okay, so the next opportunity is something
that we’ve already talked about a lot, and that’s the opportunity for optimal health.
And when you first look at this, you might think, “Oh of course, optimal health. We have
a veterinarian on staff, they make sure our animals are all healthy.” But what this opportunity
was really developed for was to ensure that there was a clear line of communication between
veterinary staff, caretakers, pathologists; anyone involved in that animal’s well-being.
And the reason why this is so important has already been talked about a little bit because
that’s where the breakdowns happen, but that’s also where the good things happen. When you
have that open line of communication, you’re able to solve problems quickly, you’re able
to clear up any sort of confusion and that ultimately enhances the well-being of the
animals that we care for. This is when we talk about a lot, we do a
two-day welfare course at San Diego that we’re trying to get all of our staff members through.
It’s always one of the best received talks because we talk about being an influencer
or a decider and talking about that even though you’re not in a decider role, you could be
in an influencer role. Sometimes when you’re the person influencing, you can be just as
powerful as the person who’s making the decision. So this is what this opportunity is all about. Alright, on to the next one. And that is the
opportunity to express species’ specific behavior. This is the opportunity that we probably spend
the most amount of time on, because you’d think if an animal is acting the way they
would be acting in the wild, the way they were evolved, both physically and cognitively
to act, then you’re probably doing what needs to be done. We spend a lot of time looking
at natural history, doing research, reading articles, trying to figure out exactly what
it is that the animals in our care are doing. Most of us don’t have the luxury of working
with just one species, so obviously, the elephant keepers work only with elephants, but we have
other areas who might work with armadillos, guinea pigs, scarlet macaws, squirrel monkeys,
binturongs and ocelots all in the same day, so getting to know the natural history of
those animals and the individual history of the animals can be quite challenging sometimes.
And so we’ve developed a system in order to start to get what’s in our head down on paper
and it’s something we call an outcome-based workflow. And what we do is we take each species
and we break down the behaviors that we want to see and we can take something as simple
as drinking, for example. So drinking water. It seems pretty easy, most of our animals
get fed out of a Lixit, a Nelson automatic water bowl or a black plastic tub. But when you start to think about
how the animal might drink in the wild, it allows you to think of all of the different
opportunities we’re missing by not providing them with other ways to access water. This
was actually developed for a yellow-footed wallaby and we started thinking, okay, where
would a yellow-footed wallaby drink water in the wild? It could be rain water, it could
be running water, they could be drinking out of a body of water. It could be moisture on
vegetation. And then this was incorporated into our snow leopard, which is why it says
snow ice. As far as I know, wallabies are never found in the snow or ice. But you start thinking about, what does it
look like physically? How is the physical stance of a wallaby drinking out of a body
of water different than them hopping through the forest and drinking moisture off of the
vegetation, and how can we start to replicate that in order to give them even more opportunities? And so we came up with things like hosing
the brows off, turning on a mister fan, maybe turning off their Lixit, turning off their
automatic water drinker and giving them another water source that it might take them a minute
to realize, “Hey I’m thirsty, there’s another water source here”, but ensuring that they
have those abilities in order to explore those behaviors. And this is something that you
can use for any behavior, and the beauty of it is that, you can break it down any way
you want. So drinking is broken down into rain water, running water, body of water but
you could break it down into other categories, too. If it was food, you could break it down into
the types of food they eat or you could break it down into where they eat their food and
it just helps that thought process get down on paper. It’s something some of us probably
do in our head really well thinking about the behavior first, but it’s nice to see that
kind of distribution on here. One of the things that came out of this was
this. This is a nest, this is a bear nest. How many of you knew bears make nests? A few
people? I didn’t know until about five years ago that bears made nests. I had no idea.
This is from our grizzly bear exhibit and we would give them a pile of excelsior to
lay in, we knew that they like to lay in it, but what we were missing was that bears spend
an awful amount of time finding the resources and getting their nests just perfect. So if
you look at this picture, there’s hay, there’s excelsior, there’s palm fronds, and there’s
bark off of a tree in there. And so, we didn’t go in there and make this perfect nest, but
we provided them with all of the appropriate resources in order for them to do that on
their own. And it’s something that we’ve done with birds for a long time, we’ve always let
the birds make their own nests and haven’t thought about it at all, but for bears, for
some reason, we thought we have to make them the perfect nest because we know this is where
they like to have their nests. But again, we’re trying to look for those opportunities
where how can we let them work it out on their own? Alright, and so the last opportunity is the
opportunity for choice and control, and this is probably the hardest opportunity because
it’s the one that we don’t understand the most. It’s really hard to ask the animals
how they feel unless, of course, you’re working with language-trained chimps then maybe you
can ask them, but it’s all about what choices are we allowing them and how is that affecting
them? The reason why choice is so important is because
it empowers the animals. When you make a choice, you get a desired outcome and it reinforces
you to make another choice, and that sort of control is what is really empowering our
animals to be confident and competent. There’s tons of studies from nursing homes and assisted
facilities where people when they’re surveyed are asked about the choices they have everyday,
report greater satisfaction when they’re given choices and the choices can be as simple as,
do you want me to do your laundry today? Do you wanna take a bath today? Do you want green
beans or peas with your meal today? And when surveyed again, those residents reported higher
satisfaction when they were given some sort of choice because it’s empowering them that
they’re in charge of their own destiny and that’s the same thing that’s happening with
our animals. It’s just like the video of the rats that
were trained. They were choosing to come to the training session, they were choosing to
come out and participate. And we’ve talked about this for a long time with our animal
ambassadors, when we take our ocelot out, we ask him to go to a mark to put a leash
on and we reinforce him, but when we go to get our three-banded armadillos out, it’s
more of a, you just grab them because you can. And so, we’ve had to rethink this ourselves
too and say, wait a second, why is it okay for an armadillo but not for ocelot, or vice
versa? And so we’ve started training our smaller animals which is a lot harder, especially
if you’re thinking of snakes or reptiles who might only eat once a week in order to come
out and participate in not only their own training sessions but in their own husbandry
and care. This is one of my favorite studies I’ve ever
found about choice and control. This was done in the UK with horses. Some of you might have
seen it, but basically what they did was, they asked the horses to choose if they wanted
a blanket on or off. This is a big question in the equine world is; when do you blanket
a horse? At what temperature does your horse need to be blanketed? And so they taught them
these three symbols where the horizontal bar means, I want the blanket on. Blank is no
change and the vertical bar is, I want the blanket off. And once they trained them, this
is what happened. This horse obviously has a blanket on and
is being given two choices, either no change or blanket off. And it chooses no change and
says, it’s cold out here. I wanna keep the blanket on. And the important thing to note
is, this horse is getting rewarded regardless of what choice it makes. It gets a food reward
regardless of which choice it makes, but it also gets a secondary reward which is getting
to keep the blanket on. The horses participate in their own care, making a choice, which
is allowing them to feel empowered, and this is just one example of all of the training
and the preference training that’s starting to happen with animals around the world where
we’re starting to ask them, what do you want? Because we know it’s important to them. Along with the opportunities to thrive, there’s
a lot of other considerations out there. We have all this information, we know animals’
perspective matters. We know animals see in different colors. Some animals see in broad
UV spectrum that we can only imagine. We know that natural and individual history matters.
We know that predictability matters. Probably a mix of predictable and unpredictable events
is what’s most beneficial. We know that honest reliable signals matter and we know that we
need to look at the 24-hour experience. When we come to work, most of us came to work for
about eight-and-a-half hours, and when you ask a keeper or trainer how long they’re actually
observing their animals, most of them probably watch their animals for less than four minutes
a day because they’re busy doing everything else. They’re switching the animal, they’re cleaning,
they’re preparing the food, they’re doing keeper talks, they’re writing records, so
we don’t really have a good understanding of what our animals are doing while we’re
there but we have an even lesser understanding of what our animals are doing when we’re not
there, especially those animals that might be more active at night than they are during
the day. Also, the human-animal relationship is something that we’re starting to look at
how is our presence and our relationship with the animal important, and also looking at
lighting and soundscape. We’ve had a lot of construction over the past 10 years at San
Diego, so there’s been a lot of talk about, how does the construction noise and the lighting
at night, how is all of that impacting our animals and how are we able to mitigate that
and measure the actual effects of that? And then last one cognitive challenge which
is, are we really challenging our animals? Something that we give to them as enrichment
one day, given to them the next day and the next and the next, is it still challenging?
Is it still producing the same effect that it was on day one? And how do we start to
look at the correct challenge in that instance? And so that’s a lot of information, it’s a
lot of things to consider, so how do you apply that to what happens in real life? One example that we have is, our Replace the
Pace Program. This is Penny, a snow leopard and we would get reports from the public,
“Your cats are pacing.” We’ve all been to zoos, we’ve all seen big cats pace, right?
We know that it happens and we got a report that our cat was pacing and at first we’re
like, “Yeah, we know our cats are pacing. This is what we’re doing to try to mitigate
it.” But then, we stopped and we said, “You know what, we’re not gonna accept that anymore.
We’re not gonna say, ‘We know cats pace, it’s okay.’ We said, ‘Let’s really take a look
at this and figure out what’s going on.'” Throw everything out the window. We’re not
gonna do it the way we always did it. And what’s really happening here? And so we got
together every week, we committed, as keepers, trainers, nutritionists, curators, managers
to come together every week to try to figure out what was happening and through this process,
we did the workflow, we went through all the behaviors. We started collecting behavioral
data using a great program out of Lincoln Park, which is free to AZA-accredited facilities
and we came up with a few areas where we thought we can make a real difference. We can make
a real impact in the lives of these animals, and if not, at least we’re trying and we have
a story and we can communicate everything we’re doing in order to address this. And
one of the first things we looked at was challenge. This is from one of my favorite papers, The
Challenge of Challenge by Meehan and Mench, and this is a schematic in there that basically
lets you know where your animals are. If you’re providing a high challenge to an animal with
low skills, you’re gonna get an anxious animal perhaps, if you present them with a task that’s
too great. But if you’re presenting them a high challenge and it’s an animal that has
high skills, then you’re gonna get flow, which is something that you can experience when
things are just going well. You’re being met with challenges, but you’re
able to meet them because you have the correct skills. So we said we’re gonna focus on challenge;
both physically, mentally and emotionally with these cats. And the categories we identified
to focus on were hunting, exploring, attaining resources, manipulative novel, social and
weather and seasonality, because we thought these are the areas that are gonna have the
greatest impact for the cats that we’re caring for and I’m sure most of you have used enrichment
calendars at some point in your life. An enrichment calendar is something that basically tells
you what you’re gonna do every day and it’s something that I always hated because I feel
like it just sucks the creativity out of you when you’re assigned something every day,
but basically it’s because it’s all object-driven. It’s like raisins today, paper sacks tomorrow,
sunflower seeds the next day, but what we did was we reimagined the enrichment calendar
to be a storyboard. We took all of these experiences and we laid
them out week by week and said, “What makes sense to our animals?” If it’s raining one
day, then the next day maybe there’s an opportunity for food that wouldn’t be available unless
it rained. Maybe there’s insects available because the rain made all the insects come
out. How do we promote those sorts of associations. And starting to get our animals to learn,
if it rains for three days, there’s gonna be a flood the next day. Maybe we present
them with a water pool or something different than what they’ve had, but starting to use
these sensory cues in our daily husbandry management in order to allow the animals to
respond to the correct cues. And one of the things that we identified that
we needed the most was a better resource, and a lot of times it’s the resources that
are the key to making these things happen. Basically what happens at our zoo is the animals
are delivered a diet every single day from our Forage department. Forage delivers a bucket,
the keepers distribute it, and it’s the same every day. Bunnies on Sunday, bones on Monday,
meat on Tuesday and Wednesday, on and on and on, day after day, year after year. And we
thought, if we’re really gonna provide our animals with these experiences, we not only
need a more diverse diet, but we also need control over it ourselves. And so through
the donation from a generous donor who loves cats, we were able to get a freezer down at
our Asian cat building and so now, Forage delivers two weeks of diet at one time and
the keepers manage it. So now bunny day can be Sunday but it also
can be Tuesday and they’re able to manipulate the diet and distribute it in a way that makes
sense. As long as the cats are getting all of the nutrients in that two-week period,
we can do whatever we want with it. We could feed them Monday and Tuesday on Sunday, and
and then fast them for a couple of days. And that simple change has completely changed
the experiences that the keepers are able to give to those cats on a daily basis. Here’s an example of one thing that’s being
done, this is Todd, our lead keeper. We purchase these huge anchor shackles that are made to
tow a very large vehicle but we figured out that we can just put them right around end
of that shank bone and it’s a real quick win so just like with the polar example I showed
earlier, it allows us to anchor meat to the logs and different parts of the enclosure
and the great thing is, we’re about two and a half years in now and at first, this was
really cumbersome for the keepers because they had to get the anchor shackle, sometimes
they had to drill holes in the bones but now it’s part of the husbandry routine so when
a new keeper comes in, it’s not we’re doing something extra, it’s this is the way we do
it. This is the way we feed our animals. This is the way we take care of our animals and
so culturally, we’re shifting towards this more enriched husbandry instead of husbandry
and then enrichment and then training, it’s all the collective experience. Here’s a picture of Sacca who has since had
two cubs which are over a year old now but we were able to install a pulley which is
keeper-driven and that allows her to use all of her muscles to balance and acquire the
meat that she needs. And so one other project that we did was with polar bears. Betsy was
primate-heavy… Carnivore-heavy, sorry about that, but so with our polar bears, there also
was another area that we identified we needed to do something. We have two females and one
male polar, and the male polar bear has a very pronounced stereotypical swim pattern
during certain times of the year. The female had a door-directed behavior, where she would
pace in front of the door. And so we took the same approach and we said we need to really
look at what’s happening, throw everything out, get the team together every week. This
is how it worked at Asian cats, let’s do it here and what happened is, it didn’t work
because it was different people, it was a different area and it was different animals.
But what we learned was, in order for it to be successful, we had to let that group guide
the process. So when we started listening to the keepers
in that area, the management in that area, we were able to form a different program that
grew a little bit more organically, not quite as systematically as the Asian cat project,
but we were able to get things like snow machines. We live in San Diego, so I don’t think it’s
probably snowed there for a very long time outside of the mountains, and so now, instead
of bringing in snow maybe once a year for our polar bears, they have access to snow
every single day. This is part of their routine care. It’s not enrichment, it’s not extra.
They can bury food in it, they can roll around in it to clean their fur, it’s always accessible
for them. This has probably been the single greatest resource for those polars in that
exhibit. We also planted some things which is something
that you don’t always think about because you think, if I plant seeds and a plant, the
animals are just gonna rip it up, right? Well, they didn’t. This was a pumpkin plant and
they actually waited for the pumpkin to get almost ripe, not all the way ripe, before
they consumed it and messed around with it. Right now, we have different berry bushes
planted and we’re experimenting with some different produce that we can have, just in
the exhibit, resources that they can start to learn when it’s ready, when it’s available
and then they can access that themselves. We also took advantage of a tree that had
to be toppled, so we made a fake nest at the top of it and we hide eggs at the top of it,
so it’s a totally different behavior than what you might think a polar bear would be
doing in the wild, but it has all of those same skills, problem-solving, they have to
physically get up there, they have to maybe deal with social context that’s happening.
If you’re standing up and exposing your belly, and your conspecific is right there waiting
for you to get the egg down, you have to deal with all of that as well. And we not only
did that, but we started looking at sensory cues. If you look at this calendar, kind of the
last one, you can see we started to give them sensory cues to let them know what was gonna
happen the next day. If they were gonna get eggs in the nest on Thursday, we have an automatic
scent dispenser that would dispense lemon scent the day before or the night before when
they were in the bedroom areas. And so we’re training them to hopefully recognize, “When
I smell lemon, there’s an opportunity to get to the eggs that are in the nest”, and so
far, we haven’t been able to capture actual objective evidence that says that this is
happening, but it seems like it’s working because now if they’re gonna get a carcass
on Monday, they have a predator scent the day before, they know even if they smell the
keeper processing the carcass and getting it ready, they’re not anticipating getting
that carcass until the next day. They’re starting to learn to read their environment,
whereas in the past, if the keeper was in the kitchen doing anything with meat, which
the kitchen is in the bedroom area, which is a terrible design for most of our exhibits,
they would be in there, pacing and waiting for those opportunities as well. We’ve been able to change quite a few things.
This is my favorite. This next slide is my favorite experience we were able to give to
our polar bears. It is a reindeer, the polar bears are not in the exhibit at this point,
but our reindeer exhibit actually backs up right to our polar bear exhibit, which doesn’t
sound like a good idea. There’s just a double chain-link fence in between but they really
don’t pay attention to each other at all. They’ve learned that they’re not a threat
to each other because they’ve never had access to each other, but there’s a door there. So
we took the polars out of the back part of the exhibit, let the reindeer come in, and
this is what happened, they started rubbing and marking, because they’ve already destroyed
all the plants that are in their exhibit. This was also a day we were able to get some
bags of snow. This was the first time that any of these reindeer have seen snow in their
life. And so as it pans over, you can see this is a young reindeer in the middle, Rodney,
pawing, digging the snow, I believe we buried some food in there. The female in the back
just laid down in the pile of snow, she’s like, “Thank God someone finally gave me snow”,
so they were able to exhibit all these great behaviors. They defecated and urinated everywhere
and then eventually, they went back into their home exhibit. And then at that point, we let
the polar bears in and we didn’t clean up after the reindeer, and they went around,
you could see them tracking exactly where the reindeer had been, and they were exhibiting
all of these behaviors that we couldn’t do without having the reindeer in that exhibit.
Giving them that experience changed not only that day, but the next day, they would go
back around and try to figure out if that scent was still there. We’ve done this a few times now. One time,
one of the reindeers was shedding her antlers and there was blood that dripped all over
the exhibit, that was the best day in our polar bear’s life, ever. He just thought that
was the best thing ever. If you go back to the word “enrichment”, it’s
pretty Plain Jane like, let’s do enrichment. Everyone’s doing enrichment, we have to check
the box. It’s really lost its meaning because either enrichment is one thing or enrichment
has become the term for everything that we do. It’s substrate change, it’s perching change,
it’s husbandry details. So what we’re trying to do is really just get rid of the word “enrichment”
altogether and change that to “experience.” What’s the experience that we’re giving to
our animals so we’re slowly phasing out the word “enrichment” in both at the San Diego
Zoo and at the Safari Park and hoping that that starts to spread because I don’t wanna
say “enrichment” is a dirty word but it just has no meaning. It’s become something that’s
not what we’re trying to do anymore. We want to focus on the experience and not the enrichment,
and so that’s where we’re going. This last slide, that’s Rodney, that’s the
second time he got snow and he actually got a ton of snow, and he ran back and forth like
100 times that day, and the next day, he came up lame, but he was okay and I don’t often
like to say animals look happy, but you can’t deny that he looks happy in that picture. Thank you for having me. Any questions?

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