Enrichment – the Secret to our Success

One of Kanyana’s woylie enclosures featuring enrichment items.

One of Kanyana’s woylie enclosures featuring enrichment items.

Whether attending to an orphaned magpie or a sensitive, breeding woylie, enrichment is vitally important to the long-term health and welfare of any animal, particularly one in a captive environment. All animals benefit from enrichment, even humans, but enrichment is not merely about providing elaborate toys for an animal to interact with. It is about providing an environment that somewhat mimics an animal’s natural habitat, and which presents opportunities to exercise that animal’s natural instincts and biological behaviours.

As human activity impacts more heavily upon the natural habitats of animals, captive populations within zoos, parks and sanctuaries are becoming increasingly important to the conservation of species. In studies of captive animals (Shepherdson, Mellen, & Hutchins; 1998), researchers have found that the enrichment of animals’ enclosed environments enhanced physical health and psychological well- being. Enclosures that feature enrichment encouraged animals to be physically active through exploration and foraging. Enrichment has also been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of psychological harm and the development of compulsive, non- natural behaviours in caged animals. By providing stimulation through enrichment, managers of captive populations can:

  • assist with the conservation of natural behaviours by individual animals and groups;
  • facilitate breeding and the maintenance of genetic diversity;
    prepare captive bred or rehabilitated animals for release into the wild.

At Kanyana Wildlife, we have a need to realise these same benefits for the wildlife in our care. We house a selection of animals for education purposes, breeding populations of endangered species, and animal patients undergoing rehabilitation for release. Our Enrichment Team works hard to incorporate natural elements into cages and aviaries promote the health and welfare of our animals. Cuttings from native trees and plants that feature leaves, nuts and flowers are regularly placed within enclosures, and provide material for animals to build nests, eat, and gnaw. We also place selections of other objects into enclosures to provide exploration and foraging opportunities similar to those that would be encountered in natural habitats. Providing enrichment for our captive animals requires consistent effort, resources, time and creativity.

Kanyana is always in need of volunteers who can help us enrich the lives of our animals. Learn more about Kanyana’s enrichment team at our volunteer information sessions, held every month at our Lesmurdie facility. Register your interest by calling 9291 3900, or email

info@kanyanawildlife.org.au.