Ep17 Mark Kingston Jones on enrichment and the importance of the individual

2020 ibuzz podcast Nov 13, 2020

We are delighted to welcome Mark Kingston Jones on this next episode of the iBuzz podcast! Mark is a co-founder of Team Building With Bite, which aims to increase cohesion and animal welfare by having teams come together to build enrichment devices. He is also the workshop Coordinator for The Shape of Enrichment, a non-profit dedicated to promoting environmental enrichment around the world. The organisation is based on two key founding principles: goal-based and holistic welfare programmes. 

Having always wanted to work with animals, Mark originally planned to become a keeper, but a desire to pursue research sent him down the path of education. Throughout his time in the field, he has seen environmental enrichment shift from being thought of as simply toys and extras to being an integral part of animal welfare. By creating behavioural opportunities and giving animals some choice and control in deciding if and how they want to interact with a change in their environment (such as feeding devices, changes in physical habitat, sensory opportunities, etc.) we strive to cover all of an animals’ wants and needs in human care and provide them with holistic welfare. 

Mark highlights that goal-based programmes are crucial to interpreting success. Defining what you hope to achieve with enrichment and setting general and/or specific goals will determine how you assess enrichment and the decisions you make in your programmes. There is no one-size-fits-all enrichment, so in all programmes there must be a focus on the animals themselves (both as individuals and, if applicable, as members of their group) to make informed decisions. Monitoring is key for all new programmes because animals are often surprising in how they respond to enrichment.

Mark also discusses the importance of caring for animals 24/7 across lifespan and tailoring environmental enrichment to support animals at all stages of their lives. Looking at safety, he stresses the need to make the best decision from the animals’ point of view and measure the risks against the benefits. 

In conclusion, Mark shares some stories about enrichment, luck, and overcoming limitations, reminding us that limitations can appear in many forms, from institutional to in our own minds. 

Read more about Team Building With Bite HERE

Support them on Patreon HERE

Read more about The Shape of Enrichment HERE 

Listen on your favourite player or directly HERE

Become a member of PAWS HERE


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