Thursday, September 22, 2005

Enrichment

I took a couple of the kids to the zoo the other day. As I think I mentioned before, we have a family pass to the local zoo. We end up at the zoo quite often and spend just a couple of hours there.

The last time we went, they were having an "enrichment" day for the animals. What that meant is that there was something different for the animals. The idea was to stimulate the animals both physically and mentally. The little Golden Lion Tamarins had food hidden in paper bags. Other monkeys had new things to climb on or play with. The penguins had their fish thrown into the water and they had to go swim and get it. They didn't seem to catch on very well, at least at first.

As part of this animal enrichment, there were various activities for the kids and signs with explanation of the various enrichment activities. One of these signs caught my attention. It was a sign answering the question of why they don't give the animals the toys, puzzles and other things everyday. The answer was that if the items were given to the animals everyday, they would stop serving their purpose of providing stimulation to the animals. In essence, the animals would get used to having them. It is novelty of the item that makes the difference.

While we are not animals, we also get used to the things in our lives. Even something we really enjoy can become boring through too oft repeating. For example, if your sweetie likes flowers, receiving them occasionally will be a special treat. But if they were received everyday, they would soon become boring.

The moral of the story is to not do the same thing all the time. Do the unexpected. Give flowers on a non-holiday instead of a holiday. Send a card "just because". Do the dishes or some chore you don't normally do. Challenge the daily routine, once in a while.
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