Habituation to environmental enrichment in captive sloth bears - effect on stereotypies
The benefits to captive animals of environmental enrichment (EE) are widely recognized. Few studies have, however, studied how to maximise the effect of EE. One issue with EE programs seems to be habituation to the enrichment device.
To study the effect of habituation to EE, 14 captive sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) were subjected to two different EE treatments. Treatment one presented EE (logs with honey containing holes) for five consecutive days, whereas treatment two presented EE on intermittent days for five days. Intermittent presentations tended to reduce habituation toward the EE. Both consecutive and intermittent presentations significantly reduced stereotypies; however, the consecutive presentations had a longer-lasting effect. Explorative behaviors increased in both treatments, consistent with earlier findings that EE increase levels of natural behaviors. Other behaviors were unaffected by the EE presentations. The results show that intermittent presentation of EE objects may secure the interest of the animals, but continuous access to enrichment may be more efficient in reducing stereotypies in the long run.
Authors: Anderson C, Arun AS & Jensen P.
Title: Habituation to environmental enrichment in captive sloth bears – effect on stereotypies.
Source: Zoo Biology 2010, volume 29, issue 6