The effect of different types of environmental enrichment on Humboldt penguin Spheniscus humboldti behaviour
Keywords:enrichment, feed, island, minnows, penguin, sticks
Penguins exhibited at zoological institutions can be prone to a foot condition known as pododermatitis (or bumblefoot) if they have high levels of sedentary behaviour. Providing penguins with environmental enrichment can increase activity levels by offering opportunities to engage in species-appropriate behaviour such as swimming and locomoting around the exhibit. The goal of the current study was to provide different types of enrichment to Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti at the Brookfield Zoo with the aim of increasing their activity levels and time spent in the water. The four types of enrichment were the provision of artificial sticks, live minnows, and a floating island, and feeding the penguins in the water. Each of the four enrichment conditions lasted two weeks and was preceded by two weeks of receiving no new enrichment. Behaviour and location (nest, land, water) were recorded for each subject during both the baseline and enrichment conditions. The artificial sticks (Z=?2.74, P=0.01) significantly increased activity levels for the group. No significant differences were found for the other three enrichment conditions or with time spent in the water. It is hoped that the enrichment used in this study can enhance the welfare of penguins by increasing the amount of exercise they receive which will in turn decrease the risk of acquiring bumblefoot. Future studies can test other types of enrichment to determine the types that are most effective to increase activity levels.