Why Enrichment is SO Important

[In the picture above. Pablo, a volunteer, offers Izzy a customized paintbrush so she can become her very own Picasso.]

The happiest animal is a free animal. The Toucan Rescue Ranch (TRR) and everyone that works here truly believe that. The goal of our organization is to keep animals free. The bulk of our animals arrive to our doorstep injured, sick or defenseless due to the direct or indirect action of people. Our first task is to heal them and try to release them, but a number of these animals are in such a shape that they couldn't survive in the wild. That's where TRR comes in. The rehabilitation center in San Josecito is where we keep our permanent residents and do our educational tours. It provides us with the means to keep the operation going while also helping us teach people how to prevent more issues with wildlife. While our Sanctuary conditions provide an optimal learning opportunity for our visiting humans, it can be bleak for our residents. In captivity, animals designed to survive in the ever-changing wild, now have to make little effort to survive. With their every need taken care of, animals tent to get restless, so we work hard to ensure our animals are engaged, entertained and enriched. The goal of our enrichment program is to make sure our residents do not go stir crazy and to encourage wild behavior associated with good mental health. Enrichment may vary from hiding their food to providing puzzles. Some examples include bathtubs for birds to encourage wild behavior, fruit burritos and food inside cardboard boxes to encourage foraging, new smells and live prey.

Keeping animals free is our primary goal but keeping those who cannot be released happy and healthy is also a top priority. Stay tuned to our social media to learn more about our ongoing enrichment program  and for updates on our animals.

By Biologist Pedro Montero Castro

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