Providing a Safe and Caring Environment for Exotic Animals

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Definition of Emotional Enrichment

By Louis Dorfman, Animal Behaviorist

Emotional Enrichment is a technique for improving and enhancing an animal's emotional life and minimizing stress, agitation, and irritation within the context of the animal's personality and biological instincts. It is a process wherein keepers, employees, and/or behaviorists create an emotional bond with the animal through either protected or unprotected contact, depending upon such factors as the personality of the animal and the expertise of the keeper/behaviorist. The process involves approaching and interacting with the animal in the mindset that the animal is entitled to treatment with respect and dignity, and with concern for its individual emotional requirements. The contact can be either affectionate interaction or play with behavioral enrichment items, depending on the individual animal. As the term implies, its purpose is to enrich, improve, and enhance the quality of life of the animal by conditioning and positive reinforcement, creating a bond in which the animal looks to its human caregivers as sources of security, support and comfort.

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