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The AZA Standards for Elephant Care and Management states:

All holding institutions must have a written environmental enrichment plan for their elephants and show evidence of implementation.

Environmental enrichment programs provide stimulation for elephants as part of their daily care.

Environmental enrichment is defined as a process for improving or enhancing the environment of elephants in the care of humans within the context of the elephant’s behavioral biology and natural history.

Responsible elephant management provides a high-quality enrichment program as part of daily elephant care.  Enrichment programs offer elephants choices that stimulate them both mentally and physically.  Enrichment programs provide elephants with the opportunity to display species appropriate behaviors such as digging, dust bathing, swimming, foraging, playing, and scent exploration, among others.

In general, environmental enrichment techniques for elephants should:

1. Allow opportunities for appropriate social interaction.

African Elephants Touching
Asian Elephants Interacting

2. Provide conditions in which the elephant’s exploration is rewarded with new and useful information, allowing it to make choices about its activities and some control of its environment.

3. Offer cognitive challenges, such as learning what a trainer is requesting, or solving a task.

4. Provide opportunities for elephants to seek shelter, forage, exercise, etc. in a species-appropriate way


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Elephant Information
Updated: November 22, 2011