Effects of feeding enrichment on the behaviour and welfare of captive Waldrapps (Northern bald ibis) (Geronticus eremita)
One of the contributing factors leading to the development of serious foot problems such as bumblefoot (pododermatitis) in captive birds is an abnormally sedentary lifestyle. This study investigated the effects of feeding enrichment on the activity levels of a captive colony of seven Waldrapps or Northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) at Tilgate Nature Centre in Sussex. After the introduction of a simple and inexpensive feeding enrichment device, the proportion of time the ibis spent inactive on perches was significantly reduced, with a corresponding increase in the proportion of time allocated to active behaviours such as walking, flying and foraging on the ground. Feeding enrichment, over the longer term, also resulted in a significant reduction in levels of aggression between individuals within the colony. The scope of this study is limited by the relatively small sample size, but nevertheless the findings suggest that the use of feeding enrichment for captive Waldrapp ibis has a number of beneficial effects.
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