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Modifying the behaviour of singly caged baboons: evaluating the effectiveness of four enrichment techniques

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Abstract:

Techniques to reduce or prevent behavioural disturbances in singly caged primates vary in form and effectiveness, with some behaviours being exceptionally resistant to treatment. Seven singly caged adolescent male olive hybrid baboons (Papio hamadryas anubis) were selected for behavioural intervention because of their severe abnormal behaviour. A continuous, all-occurrence sampling method yielded mean durations of abnormal and normal behaviour throughout the 10-week study. Analysis of baseline behaviour verified substantial durations of abnormal behaviour (mean = 9.80 min per 30-min observation period). We tested the effectiveness of four enrichment techniques: positive reinforcement training (PRT), food enrichment, non-food enrichment, and social enrichment (pair/trio housing). Each of the four enrichment conditions was implemented for a two-week period, with 10 30-min observations conducted per subject. We used repeated-measures analysis of variance to examine differences in behaviour durations between baseline and each enrichment condition. The social enrichment condition resulted in the most positive behavioural changes, including increased social behaviour and near elimination of abnormal behaviours (mean = 0.69 min per 30-min observation). Significant reductions in total abnormal behaviour levels were also found for other types of enrichment, but only social enrichment and PRT were effective in reducing whole-body stereotypies. Cage-directed and self-directed behaviours significantly decreased, whereas activity levels significantly increased during all enrichment conditions. The results of this project indicate that animate enrichment (human or conspecific stimulation), as opposed to inanimate enrichment, provides optimal means of behaviour modification for singly caged baboons. These findings have substantial implications for the welfare of captive primates in promoting successful therapeutic approaches for the behavioural management of laboratory primate species and for allocating limited enrichment resources.

Keywords: ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR; ANIMAL WELFARE; BABOON; BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION; ENRICHMENT; POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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