The Effects of Enrichment on Ring-Tail Lemur Behavior in Captivity
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Following such legislation as the Animal Welfare Act, the welfare of zoo animals has been an issue of great publicity, concern and debate. As the definition of what constitutes welfare in a captive setting continues to evolve beyond mere physical well-being to encompass the animal’s psychological state, so too has measuring welfare developed to include behavioral indicators. Using ethological methods, it is possible to quantify behavioral indicators of well-being and determine quality of life in captivity. Furthermore, using methods of enrichment, it is now recognized as possible to influence captive animal behavior, increasing behaviors associated with positive well-being and decreasing those generally accepted to indicate poor well-being and low quality of life. With these goals of improving captive animal welfare and affecting positive behavioral change, two ring-tail lemurs at the Toledo Zoo were investigated under two enrichment treatments, one comprised of olfactory enrichment items and one including feeding enrichment items. It was hypothesized that the two treatments would increase occurrence of positive behaviors while decreasing frequency of negative actions. Behaviors of test subjects were recorded using instantaneous scan sampling and the test subjects were observed during a baseline period of typical enrichment care and under each of the specialized enrichment treatment groups in order to examine activity budgets and compare occurrences of individual behaviors under each. No strong correlation between enrichment implementation and increase in "positive" behaviors and decrease in "negative" behaviors was found. This is thought to be due to several confounding variables, not under our control, and further studies are necessitated to reexamine the existence of this supposed link.