According to the World Organization for Animal Health, animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment. This means that mental and physical needs are provided for.
At APE Malaysia, we work alongside keepers to support them in terms of enrichment. In the zoological community, the word ‘enrichment’ describes the approaches and principles adopted to improve the wellbeing of animals in our care, whether they are furry, hairy, feathery or scaly! In good zoos, enrichment is part of everyday animal care and is as important as good husbandry and veterinary practices.
There are many different types of enrichment; examples include (but aren’t limited to) food, social, and environmental. All types of enrichment have similar goals. They provide captive animals with the opportunity to behave naturally, as well as keeping them physically and mentally active!
Our humble beginnings
In 2006, APE Malaysia began to help provide enrichment for animals at Malaysia’s National Zoo (Zoo Negara). At first, our efforts were small; over the years, the project has grown into a multi-faceted collaboration between ourselves, the zoo, volunteers and zoo keepers from all over the world. In 2009, we worked alongside Zoo Negara to build and develop the only enrichment centre in Malaysia: a hub for enrichment and education activities around this zoo (and hopefully for all other zoos in Malaysia too)! Since then, we have worked alongside Taiping Zoo, Melaka Zoo and Night Safari and Lao Zoo.
As well as supporting the development of enrichment programmes, we’ve also pioneered the use of enrichment as an educational tool. We believe that by creating opportunities for students to participate in the design and implementation of enrichment, we’re able to foster a deeper understanding of a zoo animal’s wild ecology. This experience also provides young people with up-close encounters with the animals, hopefully encouraging them to develop empathy for other living beings. We currently facilitate enrichment activities via student programmes at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
You can be a part of it too!
Whether joining us as a student or as an adult volunteer, our programme’s participants are always fascinated by the world of enrichment – why not join us and find out more? View our programmes here.