In natural habitats, animals receive many stimuli that vary in place and time. In such habitats, they can express a wide range of behaviours that define the species’ behavioural repertoire. Farming or captive environments are designed to meet biological basic needs (e.g. for rest, feeding), but are far less complex than “natural” habitats. When performed, some behaviours may procure positive emotions (e.g. play in young, control of the environment). In poor environments, animals are not able to express some of the behaviours from their repertoire and lack stimulation. As a consequence, they may be frustrated, lack positive emotions, or experience boredom.
The concept of environmental enrichment refers to a wide range of modifications to the environment of captive or farmed animals that offer adequate stimulation and facilitate the expression of highly motivated behaviour thus promoting positive emotions and improving the animal’s welfare.
In this Thematic Factsheet, the concept and application of environmental enrichment are described, with examples and their impacts to support animal welfare, in addition to recommendations for inspection.