Animal Enrichment Program
elephants at Fort Worth Zoo

Animal Enrichment Program

zookeeper working with elephant at Fort Worth ZooAnimal Enrichment Program

The Fort Worth Zoo Animal Enrichment Program encompasses the behavioral needs of the animals in our collection. The program is designed to provide our animals with opportunities to express natural, species-appropriate behaviors, whether it be foraging, exploring, playing, or simply resting comfortably. We accomplish this by providing variety within our animals’ environments each day, offering new food items, objects to manipulate, nest materials, and novel scents. This includes all kinds of items for busy paws, tails, beaks, mouths and noses!

Enrichment is defined by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Behavioral Advisory Group as “A process for improving or enhancing animal environments and care within the context of their inhabitants’ behavioral biology and natural history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus enhancing animal welfare.”

The Fort Worth Zoo Animal Enrichment Program is coordinated by the Conservation and Behavior Department, which provides animal care managers and keepers with the necessary supplies and current information to effectively implement enrichment for all animals in our collection. Our program is goal-oriented, and offers benefits for our animals and our guests!

Through our Animal Enrichment Program we offer enrichment to:
  • Promote the expression of natural behaviors by our animals. We provide a wide variety of foods, objects, and scents to encourage animals to display their own species-specific behaviors.
  • Provide our animals with a sense of control and encourage positive interaction with their environment. We provide structures and objects that encourage animals to make their own choices, whether they prefer to rest under a shade structure or enjoy sunning themselves in an open space.
  • Increase opportunities for exercise, which enhances animal health. We scatter and hide food in habitats and provide objects for animals to manipulate, which promotes exploratory, foraging and hunting behaviors.
  • Provide mental stimulation for our animals. We develop "puzzle feeders" to offer animals opportunities to solve "problems" and work for their food.
  • Increase animal visibility which provides a more exciting and educational experience for our guests. We provide opportunities for our guests to observe animals interacting with enrichment to showcase the unique behaviors of our animals.

Would you like to contribute to the enrichment of our animals? View the Zoo’s acceptable donation items wishlist. In addition to dropping off items in-person from pet stores, craft stores and home improvement stores, you can purchase these items on our Amazon and Home Depot registries.

View animal enrichment wishlist

Enrichment Activity Photo Gallery

  • rhino with toy
  • elephant with toys
  • rhino with toy
  • rhinos enjoying treats
  • jaguar
  • lion cub playing with toy
  • baby orangutan
  • elephant with zookeeper
  • gorilla
  • baby chimps playing with wreaths
  • baby chimp climbing rope