Taylor Eagan, M.S. in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) 2016
Center for Animals and Public Policy, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA, USA
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Studies on environmental enrichment for reptiles are lacking in the scientific literature. Although the literature reflects a limited take on reptile enrichment in the zoological community, it may not be the case in reality as enrichment is generally considered an important aspect of the care of nonhuman animals in captivity. This project investigated the current state of reptile enrichment as it is being used in zoos. Although respondents were disproportionately accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the results showed many forms of enrichment being used for reptiles in zoos and happening at much greater levels than what has been suggested in the scientific literature. There were significant differences between a) reptile groups for each form of enrichment, and b) enrichment forms within each reptile group, except with the use of natural enrichment devices and structural/habitat design, which did not differ across all reptile groups. Enrichment goals, assessment methods, and sources of information for reptile enrichment used by zoos suggest the need for more scientific publications for facilities to make evidence-based decisions to improve the welfare of reptiles in captivity.
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