Sonic enrichment at the zoo
What will the zoo of the future sound like?
There is a strong disconnect between humans and other species in our societies. Zoos particularly expose this
disconnect by displaying the asymmetry between visitors in search of entertainment, and animals often suffering from a lack of
meaningful interactions and natural behaviors. In zoos, many species are unable to mate, raise young, or exhibit engagement
behaviors. Enrichment is a way to enhance their quality of life, enabling them to express natural behaviors and reducing
stereotypies. Prior work on sound-based enrichment and interactivity suggest that a better understanding of animals’ sensory needs
and giving them options to shape their surroundings can yield substantial benefits. However, current zoo management and
conservation practices lack tools and frameworks to leverage innovative technology to improve animal well-being and zookeepers’
ability to care for them. Ethical considerations are called for in developing such interventions as human understanding of
animals’ worlds is still limited, and assumptions can have detrimental consequences. Based on several interventions, four
principles are proposed to guide a more systematic implementation of sonic enrichment in zoos. The goal is to lay the groundwork
for the design of the zoos of the future, with a focus on sounds, for the benefit of the animals.
Keywords: zoo technology, animal-computer-interaction, animal enrichment, sonic enrichment, audio enrichment, interspecies enrichment, animal agency, animal control, zoo interactive systems, animal ethics, animal wellbeing
- 2.1History of zoos and enrichment
- 2.2Sonic enrichment
- 2.3Technology in zoos and animal computer interactions
- 2.4Human-animal relationship (HAR) as enrichment
- 3.Principles for sonic enrichment in Zoos
- 3.1Listening to zoo soundscapes
- 3.2Opening audio channels for animal-animal communication
- 3.3Listening to animals’ voices
- 3.4Giving animals agency over their sonic environment
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