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J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2011 Nov;50(6):888-94.

Efficacy of 3 types of foraging enrichment for rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).

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California National Primate Research Center, Animal Behavior Graduate Group, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, CA, USA.


Primate facilities provide environmental enrichment to improve animal wellbeing, increase opportunities for expression of species-typical behaviors, and decrease the occurrence of stereotypic behaviors. The current study assessed the efficacy of 3 types of foraging enrichment: puzzle balls, supertubes, and shakers. We assigned 48 rhesus macaques to 3 experimental groups, each of which received (after a 3-wk baseline observation period) 1 of the 3 enrichment devices intermittently for 3 wk. Observations were collected during 10-min sessions by using 1-0 sampling with 15-s intervals (480 h total). Observations were collected at the same 10 specified time points each week during the baseline period and after enrichment. Data were analyzed by using generalized linear mixed-effects modeling under the assumption that the underlying response followed a Poisson distribution. Foraging behavior increased significantly in all 3 groups and remained increased in some groups when enrichment was removed after 43 h. The 3 enrichment devices had different effects on individual expression of stereotypy: supertubes decreased it, shakers increased it, and puzzle balls led to a decrease followed by an increase. We present potential reasons for the changes in stereotypy and postulate a likely balance between the beneficial and negative effects of enrichment in any given environment.

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