Novel enrichment on an unwanted behaviour of captive bonobos

Source: Journal of Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 2008, vol 112, issue 1-2
Animals in captivity may show undesirable behaviour when they are not sufficiently challenged, making it essential for their well-being to provide daily enrichment to zoo animals.
Primates need a regular replacement with novel enrichment objects to prevent them from getting bored and look for challenging situations which might be even more undesirable. A socially housed group of bonobos showed behavioural problems such as stealing and rough handling and playing with a newborn infant in the group. To study whether providing novel environmental enrichment has an effect on this phenomenon we performed an experiment where we observed the change in behaviour in the presence of familiar and novel enrichment devices. When provided with novel enrichments, the general activity of the group increased. Simultaneously, these novel behavioural challenges significantly decreased the frequency of taking the newborn infant from its mother. Our results confirm previous findings that continuous application of new enrichments is necessary for providing sensory stimulation to primates as it promotes their well-being and indirectly might influence breeding success as well.

Title: A brief note on the effects of novel enrichment on an unwanted behaviour of captive bonobos

Authors: Katalin Csatádi, Kristin Leus and Jeffrey J.M. Pereboom