Environmental enrichment for a mixed-species nocturnal mammal exhibit

Fay E. Clark, Vicky A. Melfi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Environmental enrichment (EE) is an integral aspect of modern zoo animal management but, empirical evaluation of it is biased toward species housed in single-species groups. Nocturnal houses, where several nocturnal species are housed together, are particularly overlooked. This study investigated whether three species (nine-banded armadillos, Dasypus novemcinctus; Senegal bush babies, Galago senegalensis; two-toed sloths, Choloepus didactylus) in the nocturnal house at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, UK could be enriched using food-based and sensory EE. Subjects were an adult male and female of each species. EE was deemed effective if it promoted target species-typical behaviors, behavioral diversity, and increased use of enriched exhibit zones. Results from generalized linear mixed models demonstrated that food-based EE elicited the most positive behavioral effects across species. One set of food-based EEs (Kong®, termite mound and hanging food) presented together was associated with a significant increase in species-typical behaviors, increased behavioral diversity, and increased use of enriched exhibit zones in armadillos and bush babies. Although one type of sensory EE (scented pine cones) increased overall exhibit use in all species, the other (rainforest sounds) was linked to a significant decrease in species-typical behavior in bush babies and sloths. There were no intra or interspecies conflicts over EE, and commensalism occurred between armadillos and bush babies. Our data demonstrate that simple food-based and sensory EE can promote positive behavioral changes in a mixed-species nocturnal mammal exhibit. We suggest that both food and sensory EE presented concurrently will maximize opportunities for naturalistic activity in all species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-413
Number of pages17
JournalZoo Biology
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Choloepus didactylus
  • Dasypus novemcintus
  • Galago senegalensis
  • Nocturnal house

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