CZAAWE Resource Article

Enrichment and aggression in primates
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2006
Authors 
Publication/Journal 
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
ISBN 
01497634
Abstract 
There is considerable evidence that primates housed under impoverished conditions develop behavioural abnormalities, including, in the most extreme example, self-harming behaviour. This has implications for all contexts in which primates are maintained in captivity from laboratories to zoos since by compromising the animals' psychological well-being and allowing them to develop behavioural abnormalities their value as appropriate educational and research models is diminished. This review examines the extensive body of literature documenting attempts to improve living conditions with a view to correcting behavioural abnormalities and housing primates in such a way that they are encouraged to exhibit a more natural range and proportion of behaviours, including less self-directed and social aggression. The results of housing, feeding, physical, sensory and social enrichment efforts are examined with specific focus on their effect on aggressive behaviour and variation in their use and efficacy. It is concluded that while inappropriate or poorly distributed enrichment may encourage aggressive competition, enrichment that is species, sex, age and background appropriate can dramatically reduce aggression, can eliminate abnormal behaviour and substantially improve the welfare of primates maintained in captivity.