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Enrichment day means it’s time to play!

Did you know that many of our critters like to play with toys?

At the VLM we like to offer different activities to our critters to keep them happy and entertained. Each day we offer up some sort of enrichment activity to a variety of our critters. Sometimes, when visitors come to the Museum, they may see items in the exhibits that may look like trash, but some of those items are actually enrichment in disguise. Various boxes, bags, toys from the pet store that would be used for pets at home, scents such as cologne and spices, hard boiled eggs, other safe but unusual food items, and ice treats are all examples of enrichment items.


Enrichment items waiting to go out into an exhibit at facility. The pvc pipe constructions are what are referred to as puzzle feeders. Keepers will place small treat items inside the pipe to make a puzzle cube that the animals have to manipulate to receive a reward. Keepers will use safe novel food items, spices, and various perfumes to place in exhibits for the animals to engage in play behaviors.


A lunch sack with hay and a treat inside can be enrichment


Sometimes, boxes stuffed with treats can also be enrichment


Enrichment is an important part of taking care of animals at facilities. It stimulates natural behavior and thought patterns and offers activities for the animals to enjoy and take part in at the exhibits. It’s main purpose is to give the animals something to interact with, something to think about, or just something that changes up their routine each day. A new item or activity can encourage the critters to explore their surroundings outside of the usual day to day routine. If an enrichment activity is set up, even if the animal doesn’t interact with it, it’s still enrichment for them since it’s something different in their enclosures.


Body spray can be used as an enrichment item for the animals. They often like to sniff the scent and roll or rub in it.


Body spray enrichment in action. Here, the bobcat is rubbing in some body spray that a keeper placed in the exhibit before she went out on display for the day


Here, the bobcat is enjoying interacting with a large cardboard box. Much like the way pet cats at home may do.

Several times a week, we have enrichment activities at many of the exhibits,typically around 1 PM. Come and observe the animals play with their enrichment.

On April 20, the Virginia Living Museum will be celebrating Earth Day and we will have many activities, recycling opportunities, vendors, and special enrichment sessions throughout the day with the animals. Come celebrate the Earth with our Earth Day Celebration.

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