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An empirical case study examining effectiveness of environmental enrichment in two captive Australian Sea Lions (Neophoca cinerea)
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Bradley SmithBradley Smith, C Litchfield
This case study examined the effect of environmental enrichment on the activity budgets of a male and female Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) housed together at Adelaide Zoo. Using non-food-related (intrinsic) and food-related (extrinsic) enrichment objects, the study conducted an ABABA (withdrawal) experimental design over a 30-day period (180 hr). The study expected extrinsically reinforcing objects to be more effective than intrinsically reinforcing objects in reducing pattern swimming. The male sea lion spent more than 45% of scans engaged in pattern swimming during the initial baseline, which was reduced by at least 25% when enrichment items were present. However, there was no evidence of stereotypic behavior in the female sea lion, indicating that individual differences may exist. When enrichment was present, the study observed more active behaviors in both nonhuman animals. They spent more time interacting with the non-food-related objects overall. Therefore, introducing simple enrichment devices offers a cheap, practical, and effective method of adding complexity to the environment, which is likely to benefit the animals' welfare and enhance the zoo-visitor experience.