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Environmental Enrichment Reduces the Performance of Stereotypic Circling Behaviour in Captive Common Seals (Phoca Vitulina)

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The captive environment is often barren, predictable and under-stimulating so that the behavioural needs of animals in captivity may be thwarted. The welfare of animals may be compromised, which can result in the expression of abnormal behaviours. Stereotypic behaviours, such as the circling or pacing behaviour observed in captive pinnipeds, may become apparent. A simple, cheap and effective method of adding complexity to a captive environment is the use of environmental enrichment techniques. A number of enrichment devices were used in this study, focusing primarily on occupying more time in feeding/foraging behaviours of common seals, Phoca vitulina. The performance of stereotypic circling behaviour was significantly reduced during the enrichment period, suggesting it had improved the welfare of all the animals in this study.
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Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; COMMON SEAL; ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT; STEREOTYPIC BEHAVIOUR

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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