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The effectiveness of environmental enrichment on reducing stereotypic behaviour in two captive vicugna (Vicugna vicugna)

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Environmental enrichment by increasing foraging behaviour and providing food item choice are widely practised and generally accepted as effective methods for reducing stereotypic behaviour in captive animals. In this study, the effectiveness of increasing foraging patch choice and food item choice on reducing motor stereotypy in two captive vicugna were examined. For the purposes of the study, first, browse was added to the vicugna's enclosure as an additional forage item and, second, the vicugna's normal feed was divided: half being provided in the indoor quarters and half in the outdoor yard. The results revealed that providing browse as an additional forage item increased the observed stereotypic behaviour; however, dividing the vicugna's feed, and therefore increasing forage patch choice, decreased stereotypy. This study was limited because of the small sample size and because the area in which the vicugna were performing stereotypic behaviour was partially visually obscured. However, this study has implications for animal welfare because it highlights the need to evaluate the suitability of foraging enrichment items, and suggests that more research into accommodating the adaptive foraging behaviour of this species in captivity may be necessary.
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Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: 01 February 2006

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