Habituation towards environmental enrichment in captive bears and its effect on stereotypic behaviours

The benefits gained by the presentation of environmental enrichment (EE) to captive animals are widely recognized. Few studies have, however, studied how to maximize the effect of EE. Repeated presentations of EE may cause a reduced interest towards the EE device, called habituation. To study the effect of habituation towards EE, behavioural data from 14 captive Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) were collected during two different EE treatments. In treatment one, honey logs were presented for five consecutive days (ConsEE). In treatment two, the logs were presented every alternative day for five days (AltEE). The different treatments both showed a significant effect on responsiveness toward the EE, however, leaving gap days inbetween presentations in AltEE showed no reliable reduction in habituation. Both treatments significantly reduced stereotypies, however, only ConsEE reduced levels of stereotypies long term. Explorative behaviours, which are the most prominent behaviours in the wild, increased during both treatments. This is consistent with previous findings…


2. Introduction
2.1 Issues with captive animals
2.2 Bears
2.3 Environmental enrichment
2.4 Welfare issues and EE
2.5 Hypothesis and predictions
3. Materials and methods
3.1 Animals and housing conditions
3.2 Environmental Enrichment
3.3 Experimental procedure
3.4 Behavioural observations
3.5 Statistical analysis
4. Results
4.2 Habituation
4.2.1 Consecutive presentation of EE
4.2.2 Alternative day presentation of EE
4.2.3 Comparison between treatments
4.3 Stereotypies
4.4 Other behaviours
5. Discussion
5.1 Habituation towards the EE
5.2 Stereotypies
5.3 Other behaviours
5.4 Evaluation of the honey logs in this study
5.5 Consequences due to the experimental setup
5.6 Independence of data
5.7 General implications and future research
5.8 Conclusion
6. Acknowledgments
7. References
8. Appendix

Author: Anderson, Claes

Source: Linkoping University

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