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The benefits gained by the presentation of environmental enrichment (EE) are widely recognized. Few studies have, however, studied how to maximize the effect of EE. One issue with EE programs appears to be a reduced interest toward the EE device, called habituation. To study the effect of habituation towards EE, 14 (seven males, seven females) captive Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus) were subjected to two different EE treatments. Treatment one presented EE for five consecutive days (ConsEE) while treatment two was presented EE every alternative day for five days (AltEE). The different treatments both showed a significant effect on responsiveness toward the EE. Alt EE presentations reduced habituation toward the EE, however, only relatively short term. Both ConsEE and AltEE also showed to significantly reduce stereotypies, however, ConsEE showed to have a longer effect than AltEE. There is a chance that only presenting EE for three days may reduce the habituation toward the EE device, but are not sufficient enough to reduce levels of stereotypies long term. Explorative behaviours increased in both treatments, correlating with previous findings that EE increases natural behaviours, which has been described as a measure of improved welfare. Other behavioural groups were unaffected by the EE presentations. The results show that there are means to increase the effectiveness of EE in order to ensure animal welfare with lower costs.

Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/04/08