DATE: February 9, 2017
TIME: 7:30am PT, 10:30am ET
Animals maintained in captivity play a valuable role in education and research. Alongside this is our ethical responsibility to provide the animals with an environment that promotes their physical and behavioral health and wellbeing. Provision of safe, hygienic, comfortable, and interesting accommodations support a wide range of species typical behavior and allow animals to exercise a degree of choice and control in their environment (e.g. to choose to socialize with or avoid group mates, problem solve, and forage). Essential considerations include the amount and quality of space provided, and the flexibility of the enclosure, and ease of cleaning, access to, and monitoring of the animals.
Animal enrichment is used to enhance husbandry by encouraging and stimulating natural behavioral inclinations in our animals through sight, smell, taste, touch, and interaction as well as add critical complexity to their environment. Metabolic models often require special consideration towards opportunities that provide exercise, prolong interaction, and encourage play rather than exclusively food orientated enrichment. In harmony with these aspects behavioral management uses training, social relationships, and methods to develop trust between caregivers and animals and improves how animals cope with stress. A successful captive management program results in a safer and less stressful working environment for animal care staff due to more cooperative animals and significantly enhances animal wellbeing. These same factors can provide important insight into the translation of therapeutic strategies to the clinic.