Environmental enrichment for maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus): group and individual effects

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Abstract:

Procedures that increase foraging and exploratory behaviours are generally accepted as effective at improving welfare and reducing stereotypies in captive animals. To determine the effect of food and toy enrichment on the behaviour and hormonal levels of maned wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus), 11 wolves were submitted to a baseline-enrichment-baseline schedule with four enrichment conditions: food scattering, toy presentation, edible toy presentation, and a combination of food and toy conditions. Behaviour and glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations (GCM) were assessed throughout the experiment. Our hypotheses were that enrichment procedures would lead to an increase in activity in the short and long term, a decrease in pacing, and a reduction in GCM concentrations. We also hypothesised that the concentrations of GCM would show a correlation with behaviour. Enrichment conditions increased immediate locomotion but did not produce long-term changes of activity nor reduced pacing. The procedures had a clear effect on individual behaviour and induced, under food enrichment conditions, an increased interest in food. Enrichment did not lead to decreased GCM concentration in the group as a whole, but there was a tendency for male and female animals to differ in hormonal reactions to environmental change. A positive correlation between GCM concentrations and pacing behaviour and a negative correlation between GCM concentrations and social behaviour were found. Results suggest that food scattering as an enrichment procedure may be used with maned wolves to enhance welfare, whilst also revealing the importance of taking individual and gender differences into account when planning enrichment techniques.

Keywords: ANIMAL WELFARE; CHRYSOCYON BRACHYURUS; ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT; FAECAL CORTICOID METABOLITES; MANED WOLF; STRESS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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