The São Paulo Aquarium has the responsability of maintaining a high well-being standard to every animal in its care. Our institutional vision is intimately linked to conservation, education and research, and it gives us support to provide ways to ensure animal welfare.
It is by a multidisciplinary team (oceanographers, veterinarians, biologists and environmental managers) that the management of São Paulo Aquarium’s animals is performed. Today, there are over forty professionals connected to the areas of environmental education, animal welfare and management.
This team is constantly concerned about the captive animals. Therefore, surveys are conducted to increase the knowledge about optimal conditions for the maintenance of the species, in order to ensure the physical and psychological well-being of these animals.
The environmental enrichment is an animal handling principle that increases living quality of captive animals, identifying and providing stimuli to the expression of physical and psychological activities, that are natural to the species. Its goal is to improve the animal well-being by conceding a greater opportunity of expressing its species common behavior.
This results in the animal quality of life and, thus, in high degree of its well-being. The enrichment is important, because it provides more activities to the animal, decreases artificial behaviors, and also decreases stress. It comprises a variety of original, creative and ingenious techniques to acquire more stimulating environments.
It has been exercised more and more constantly everyday in zoos and aquariums all over the world, and it is meant to improve animal life condition.
Beyond the environmental enrichment program, the animals go through a operant conditioning routine with positive reinforcement. The conditioning is a process of learning. It is a method that rewards a determined response of an individual.
For example: we request that the animal step up into a weighing scale. If the animal executes the action, it will be rewarded. If not, nothing happens; the animal simply doesn't get its reward (the animal is never punished if it fails to execute the action).
The conditioning is applied to animal handling, mainly by the veterinarian. It is used to reduce stress, to receive medication or allow injections, to permit biometric scan (being weighed or measured), to be transported, to show body parts for touching, among other uses. Such procedures will be done with no need of restraining the animals, which otherwise generates too much stress on them.
Come and see the result of our work!
Check out these shots of the environmental enrichment: