Unique Enrichment for Cheetahs and Elephants

Posted January 19, 2023 by Angela Hatke

By Keepers Anna Miller & Emily Meyer

Enrichment is an important part of the daily care we provide to our animals. It is anything the zookeepers add to the animals’ environments to stimulate their senses and elicit natural behaviors such as foraging, exploration, hunting, problem-solving, and even play. Each species’ individual needs are considered when designing enrichment activities!

Recently, elephant and cheetah keepers came together to provide unique enrichment to both animals! When elephants were still inside for the day, keepers brought Donni the cheetah into the empty elephant yard! This fun enrichment activity allowed him to smell the scent of the elephants and explore their space.

While Donni was in the yard, he sniffed and rolled around on the ground as well- he had a great time! While this was fun for Donni, he was also leaving behind smells for the elephants to enjoy!

Once Donni was safely back at his home, the elephants could come out and explore the smells he left in their yard. A fun enrichment activity that benefits both species 😊

Elephants are very scent oriented, having a better sense of smell than a bloodhound! Scent enrichment is very important to our daily routine for the elephants, and it helps keep their habitats new and stimulating.

The novel scent of a cheetah having been in their yard was definitely enriching. Donni walked and rolled around the yard, putting his scent all over, and the elephants noticed.

As soon as the elephants came out, they immediately went to the large tire that Donni had jumped in. All the elephants vocalized and came together to investigate the new scent. Mai Thai and Jati both were following the scent trails that Donni left behind. It was an enrichment success, both for Donni, the elephants, AND the keepers involved.