CZAW Resource Article

Effects of Single-Use and Group-Use Enrichment on Stereotypy and Intragroup Aggressive and Affiliative Behaviors of a Social Group of Squirrel Monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) at the Singapore Zoo
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Four food-based enrichment devices were used to test the effects of single-use and group-use enrichment devices on stereotypy, intragroup aggression, and affiliation in a compatible group of 5 squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). All enrichment devices were found to reduce overall stereotypic behavior from baseline levels (without enrichment). The occurrence of stereotypic behavior differed between individual squirrel monkeys with an adult female showing the highest level of stereotypic behavior. This individual also showed the highest usage of enrichment devices, and stereotypic behavior was significantly reduced when enrichment was applied. The occurrence of stereotypic behavior did not differ significantly between single-use and group-use enrichment treatments. Higher intragroup aggression and lower affiliation were observed during the provision of enrichment compared with baseline levels. However, aggressive behavior was higher and affiliation lower during single-use enrichment compared with group-use enrichment. The results of this study showed that enrichment had positive effects on alleviating stereotypic behavior in a group of zoo-housed squirrel monkeys and such effects were similar when group-use and single-use enrichment devices were used, but with variations between individuals. The application of enrichment, particularly single-use enrichment devices, elicited higher levels of aggression within the group and lower affiliation. Such effects could curtail the benefits of original enrichment goals as higher intragroup aggression could lead to higher stress levels within the group. When food-based enrichment for social nonhuman primates is implemented, the most appropriate methods to alleviate undesirable behavior without additional negative effects such as increased group aggression should be considered.