Certain types of inanimate environmental enrichment have been shown to positively affect the behavior of laboratory primates, as has housing them in appropriate social conditions. While social housing is generally advocated as an important environmental enhancement, few studies have attempted to measure the influence of social conditions on the effects of inanimate enrichment or to compare the relative merits of social and inanimate enhancements. In the present study, inanimate enrichment (predominately physical and feeding enhancements) resulted in increased species‐typical behavior for socially restricted subjects. However, social enrichment (living in groups) appeared to be more beneficial for young rhesus monkeys, leading to increased species‐typical activities and decreased abnormal activities. The behavior of one cohort of yearling rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) housed in small peer groups was compared with the behavior of four yearling cohorts housed in single cages. Half the animals in each cohort received a three‐phase enrichment program and the rest served as controls. Group‐housed yearlings spent significantly more time feeding and exploring and significantly less time behaving abnormally, self‐grooming, and drinking than did singly housed yearlings. Enriched subjects spent significantly more time playing by themselves, and significantly less time self‐grooming and exploring than did controls. Among group‐housed subjects only, there were no differences between enriched and control monkeys. Captive primates should be housed socially, whenever appropriate, as the first and most important step in an enrichment program, with the provision of inanimate enhancements being considerably less important. Limited resources for inanimate enrichment programs instead should be focused on those individuals who can not be housed socially. © 1996 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Primatology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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