Environmental enrichment

Zoo animals don´t have the same physical and psychological opportunities as their conspecifics in the wild. They don´t have to look for food, escape from predators or protect their territory.

Animals who live in a Zoo might “get bored“ without the activities that would force them to use their senses – and this could cause changes in their behavior. To evoke animals’ natural behavioral repertoire it is important to give them physically and mentally enriching activities that stimulate their senses and prevent abnormal behavior.

Environmental enrichment is a systematic process that will create a challenging environment for animals to enhance their social, physical and psychological well-being. Through the environmental enrichment we encourage animals to make choices and draw out species-specific natural behaviors, provide mental challenges, encourage the animals to be more mobile, and thus enhancing their overall well-being. Besides, through providing environmental enrichment, we give them options and certain control over their environment and reduce frustration and stress. Enrichment keeps animals active and interested in their environment which means that the visitors will have a more interesting experience as well.

Environmental enrichment types:

Enrichment items are usually divided in to five groups. Each category should be incorporated to the animals’ monthly enrichment plan which should be a part of the daily animal husbandry practice.

Leopard iseenda kujuga sõbrustamas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts

Leopard iseenda kujuga sõbrustamas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts


1. Social enrichment

Social enrichment refers to the opportunity to interact with other animals. Communication stimulates animals’ natural behaviors and instinct. In many cases zoos use artificial items like animal images, masks, and mirrors for that

Jääkaru poiga mängimas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts

Jääkaru poiga mängimas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts

2. Cognitive enrichment (Manipulative objects)

Cognitive enrichment allows animals to solve various tasks or play with new toys. The aim is to stimulate the mind, which is why animal training belongs here as well. Training session is a new experience for the animals and forces them to think and create connections and learn new behaviors.

Ninasarvik mudaaugus. Foto: Signe Kalgan

Ninasarvik mudaaugus. Foto: Signe Kalgan

3. Physical enrichment

Physical enrichment could mean displacement of existing objects or adding new objects to the animals’ environment. It also means adding complexity to the environment through providing new substrates or creating wallowing areas and mud holes. To use the territory as efficiently as possible, zoo staff create different levels, climbing structures and new places for hiding and resting (for example swings made out of hose).

Amuuri leopardid kaneeli sees püherdamas. Foto: Helen Kaigu

Amuuri leopardid kaneeli sees püherdamas. Foto: Helen Kaigu

4.Sensory enrichment

Sensory enrichment is used to stimulate all of the animals’ senses. This is accomplished through different smells, sounds, materials and new food items, which the animals are not used to.

Pesukaru torude seest maiuseid otsimas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts

Pesukaru torude seest maiuseid otsimas. Foto: Kristel Nemvalts

5.Food enrichment

Enrichment with food includes also new food items, but at the same time the food may be presented in a variety of ways. For example the food is hung onto pole, buried in the substrate or hidden in some object- the purpose is to make the animal move and strive for the catch.

Enviornment enrichment in Tallinn Zoo.

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  • Ticket office
  • Indoor expositions *
  • Children’s Zoo

Indoor exhibitions are closed on Mondays. The zoo's territory is open for walking until 7 PM.

How to get here

Paldiski mnt. 145 – North Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Freedom square (Vabaduse väljak) buses no. 22, 41, and 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Railway station (Balti jaam) buses no. 21, 41, and 43 (Bus stop Zoo)

Ehitajate tee 150 – West Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Karikakra or Nurmenuku) From Railway station (Balti jaam) bus no. 43 (Bus stop Karikakra, Nurmenuku or Zoo) Buses no. 10, 12, 13, 28, 37, 45, 46, 47

Zoo map


E-R +372 6943 300; Emergency: 512 69 65

Ehitajate tee 150/Paldiski mnt. 145
Tallinn 13522, Estonia

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