Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Uncategorized » Enrichment – what is it and how does it help the animals at the Belize Zoo?
Sep 9, 2020

Enrichment – what is it and how does it help the animals at the Belize Zoo?

Last week we showed you what it takes to feed the animals at the Belize Zoo. In our second part of the story – we give you a look at a critical part of the development programme for these animals. It’s a part of the work that the Zoo does to keep these animals physically and psychologically healthy so that we can have memorable experiences at the zoo. It’s a side to the zoo that the public doesn’t get to see. Our cameras went behind the scenes to bring you a snippet of the enrichment exercises. Here’s more in the following story:


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

…More than a dozen coatimundis are scrabbling at this haystack – fighting off each other to make take control of the haystack. It’s like a treasure hunt for these Coatis – better known as Quash. They are looking for small treats that were carefully tucked away in this haystack. It’s a regular part of their upkeep – where the zoo keepers pack in treats like peanuts and meats between the hay. After that is done – the keeper throws it into the management pen – and as we found out – this isn’t just about the fittest getting the treats – they mostly do – but it’s an important exercise to help with the development of these mammals.


Celso Poot, Operations & Finance Manager, The Belize Zoo

Celso Poot

“With the quash or the coatimundis we hid their food in the hay and that like simulate finding a termite nest or something like that in the wild.”


It’s called enrichment. It helps with the physical and psychological needs of the animals, as well as helps them to make choices. In the wild, animals like the Coatis look for food, as well as build their shelters, defend their territories and escape predators. And so this enrichment training provides stimulating exercises where they can perform natural behaviors, and help them to be more active.


Celso Poot

“The animals at the zoo in captivity are not here because we want to have them. These are animals that the government confiscated because people have them illegally as pet. People donated them because they couldn’t provide the care they needed. Some were injured and they were brought to us for care. And some were born here. These animals require natural enrichment. So, they need to do activity that will stimulate their brain because you cannot have them in confined areas.”


Over in the management pen for the collared peccaries – locally called peccary – the zoo keeper is burying food. The food is spread out and then covered. The peccaries – appear quite shy – but they eventually make their way over to the food. Once there – they use their tusks to help dig and find the food.


Celso Poot

“What you saw today, for example, with the peccaries we buried their food and as in the wild they will dig and they will find their food. So, that stimulates their brain.”


At the Belize Zoo, the keepers provide most of the animals’ needs. So, other methods of physical and mental stimulation are also used to encourage their natural behaviors. The method used in the peccary pen is designed to mimic the way they would go hunting for food in their natural environment.


Celso Poot

“So, enrichment can be their food – it can be cognitive whereby they are using their brain like to find their food, to get their food. It can be in terms of their habitat, how they move about. And you can also provide them with toys. And so enrichment can be in various forms. But basically it keeps them occupied. It keeps their minds stimulated and ultimately the animals’ well-being is what is most important for us.”


Andrea Polanco

“And this is something you have to do regularly?”


Celso Poot

“This is something we do regularly. We have an enrichment schedule. So, every day we do enrichment with different animals. So, they are all occupied. It is not just coming to the zoo and feeding the animals and go home. The zoo keepers are here on a daily basis where they have a routine prepping food and then working on enrichment making sure the animals are doing well.”


Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed