Battle of the enrichments: comparing the impact of nutritional and sensory enrichment on the behaviour of captive lowland tapirs Tapirus terrestris
Keywords:Animal husbandry, Behaviour, Captive welfare, Hoofstock, Environmental Enrichment, Tapirus terrestris
Environmental enrichment is used to improve the welfare of captive animals by providing increased environmental variety, the provision of choice, and the opportunity to develop competency. The efficacy of a range of environmental enrichment should be measured on a species-by-species basis to encourage species-specific behaviours and to reduce abnormal behaviours. This study aimed to identify whether different types of enrichment affected feeding, locomotive or resting behaviours in two (1.1) captive lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris housed at Dartmoor Zoo in the hour after enrichment was provided. A baseline period occurred in which no enrichment was given in the morning. The experimental period followed, in which five nutritional enrichments and four forms of sensory enrichment items were provided, randomly alongside the tapirs’ morning feed over a period of three months. Behavioural observations were collected at thirty second intervals during the hour immediately after provision. Generalised Linear Mixed Models found that nutritional enrichment significantly increased feeding behaviour, and this was the case for all five enrichment items, compared with baseline observations. Locomotion, resting and other behaviours were not significantly different compared with baseline observations. Post-hoc comparisons between enrichments revealed significant behavioural differences between enrichment categories. The results indicate that a wide range of enrichment, such as food-based cognitive enrichment and biologically relevant olfactory enrichment, should be used and evaluated in tapir husbandry plans.
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