Measuring the Behavioral Effects of Environmental Enrichment in Captive Chimpanzees

Grunauer, Priscilla
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
In their natural habitat, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) live in a dynamic environment where they must use a myriad of cognitive skills to solve survival-related problems. Atypical environments that do not provide comparable stimulation can lead to primates performing abnormal behaviors. In captivity, environmental enrichment is provided to circumvent behavioral abnormalities and promote more species-typical behaviors. Although enrichment use is now a standard practice in zoos, zoos often fail to present complex problem-solving tasks to primates commensurate with those encountered in nature. Therefore, an essential feature of an enrichment program should be to present captive non-human primates with various intellectual challenges that engage their cognitive abilities. Previous studies suggest that novel enrichment may promote more positive behaviors and may also decrease abnormal behaviors, with certain types of enrichment being more effective than others. This project aimed to examine the behavioral effects of a novel enrichment activity, producing art on an iPad, compared to creating art through a typical enrichment activity, painting, in a non-typical, high-stress situation as seen in the eight group-living chimpanzees at the Honolulu Zoo. Although both enrichment activities were effective in reducing abnormal behaviors both during the enrichment period and post-enrichment exposure, the painting treatment was shown to be overall more effective. These results may be used to further investigate the simulative value of novel and familiar enrichment and how to maximize its effects both during initial and post-exposure.
Chimpanzee, Captivity, Enrichment, Paint, iPad
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