Environmental Enrichment of Captive Primates: a Research for Welfare at Maia’s Zoo

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


Environment enrichment (EE) is a recent concept. However its recognition had been considerably increasing and its practice has been branching out, adapting it for each particular species. We can define environment enrichment as a practice aiming to grant improved conditions to captive animals, as it develops behavioural opportunities to mimic wild life. Implementation of many varieties of enrichment is now a standard routine worldwide in recovery centers, zoos and laboratories, as also public opinion demand better conditions for animals and law stipulate its practice. The aim of this study is to test if individuals of three non-human primate species at Maia’s Zoo (gibbons, N=2; Mona monkeys, N=2; brown lemurs, N=2) need environmental enrichment ad if the devices implemented reduce boredom and apathy, symptoms that captive animals are more prom to. The apparatus here presented acts as a cognitive stimulus and feeding enrichment. Also, to prove its applicability the type of enrichment device chosen must be easy, simple and inexpensive to build. With this in mind, the feeding devices given to the subjects of this study consist in food-filed small pieces of bamboo canes and a wire box filled with fruits and straw. The results of the present study show that the subjects did indeed need EE intervention, as inactivity was reduced in the three groups and abnormal behaviours was decreased in brown lemurs. It is clear that the effect of an enriching foraging strategy depends on the species and its individuals’ personalities, which are important aspects that should be taken into account when designed and maintained EE programs. EE technique should be planned according to the expected effect and at the same time, we must provide opportunities for the animals to manipulate the devices and choose when to do that. Enrichment effect may not be immediate so we must be ‘patient’ with its use. Future projects should include a larger number of individuals.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMaster of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade de Coimbra
  • Sousa, Claudia Maria A. Margato Ramalho, Supervisor
Award date20 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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