At the zoo our keepers and curator work hard trying to find new ways to stimulate and encourage natural behavior in all our animals.
Here is an example of a feeding technique we use with the large cats to promote wild behavior and to prevent obesity and muscle dysfunction.
It is essential to keep animals to the highest standards and always try to bring some of their natural feelings/habit into the captive environment, this enables the animals to feel and experience some of the feelings that where going to be felt if the animals lived on the wild.
Feeding role: The animals need to search for their food and perform typical wild behaviours to obtain it as it would have in the wild. The reasons are clear, keep the animals busy as in the wild promote their natural behaviours and also give them a chance for certain locomotive function to be performed so as to exercise different muscle groups found on the body. This helps the animal keep a fit body condition and avoid obesity and muscle dysfunction.
Olfactory role/using smell: It promotes the animal to use and strengthen the sense of smell as in the wild, by hiding food or creating odor paths then the animal has to use its sense of smell as it would have to in the wild either for food search or for interaction with its surrounding environment.
Promoting wild behavior will help the animals to also breed more easily as their time being spent in captivity feels more like nature rather than been kept in an enclosure with unlimited food and no stimulation.