Effects of Programmable Puzzle Feeders on Stereotypic Behaviors of Laboratory Housed Rhesus Monkeys (Macaca mulatta)
Russo, Veronica A.
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Non-human primate research is seen as unavoidable in many areas of research with obvious medical applications. Researchers must abide by certain governmental mandates put forward by the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 and its amendments by providing consummate care and husbandry to the non-human primates, including various types of environmental enrichment for stimulation and psychological well-being. A laboratory confired non-human primate is at an increased risk for displaying abnormal stereotypic behaviors and elevated stress levels. In this study, the success of the PPI Puzzle-Feeder™ as an enrichment device on the reduction ofstereotypic behaviors and urine cortisol levels in a group of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) was investigated. It was predicted that this device, which was thought to encourage natural foraging behaviors for desired treats, would be an effective enrichment device for the alleviation of abnormal stereotypic behaviors and elevated urinary cortisol levels and would promote psychological well-being. Results were shown to support the hypotheses, as significant decreases in certain selected and idiosyncratic behaviors were observed following the first treatment phase as relative to the first baseline phase. Expression of these behaviors remained below the first baseline phase for all subsequent baseline and treatment phases. A similar trend was observed for the urinary cortisol levels of the monkeys, indicating that the programmable feeder promoted the alleviation of physiological stress. The ramifications for this study are vast, suggesting that the programmable feeder device is an effective form of environmental enrichment for laboratory confined rhesus monkeys.