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Effect of environmental enrichment on activities of captive orangutans at Taiping Zoo, Malaysia

PUTERI SHAFIQAH MEGAT AHMAD SHARIMAN, NADINE RUPPERT

Abstract


Environmental enrichment is essential for the psychological and physical
well-being of captive animals. Food enrichment was shown to promote foraging and positive social behaviors in apes. We provided environmental enrichment for four captive Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus) at Taiping Zoo & Night Safari, Perak, Malaysia from January to February 2015. We gave food enrichment (frozen food cubes and gunny sacks) on six days during the enrichment phase of this study. We recorded individual behaviours using a scan sampling approach during the enrichment phase and on six days
during the control phase (without enrichment; November to December 2014). The four orangutans engaged longer with the gunny sack (mean 68±12.4%) than with the frozen food (mean 32±9.1% of total engagement time: 240 min). The enrichment affected the activity budgets of all four orangutans. Mean foraging frequencies increased significantly (Pairedt-test, two-tailed, P≤0.01, d.f.=3, t=9.61, SED=2.84), while resting decreased significantly (t=6.51, SED=5.01) during enrichment. Foraging frequencies increased significantly in all
individuals (χ2 1-4 5.81-12.72; Chi Square N-1, d.f.=1, P≤0.01, N=288), while resting decreased and social behaviours, playing and locomotion increased in some but not all individuals. The zoo should continue a regular and diverse enrichment regime for its orangutans to promote positive behaviours and maintain the well-being of these great apes.


Keywords


Captivity, zoo, great apes, Pongo pygmaeus, food enrichment.

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