CZAAWE Resource Article

Impact of Different Forms of Environmental Enrichment on Foraging and Activity Levels in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2015
Publication/Journal 
Animal Behavior and Cognition
Abstract 
The maintenance of species-specific behaviors for animals in zoological institutions is of top priority, as this can help ensure high levels of animal welfare. Strict feeding schedules within institutions can often impact natural foraging behaviors of animals, as they are no longer required to seek out or manipulate food items. In the wild, western lowland gorillas would spend a majority of their time foraging. The goal of the current study was to examine the impact of different forms of environmental enrichment on activity and foraging levels in gorillas at the Brookfield Zoo. Results suggest that automatic belt feeders that can feed at randomized times, will have the largest impact on behavior of all enrichment tested. However, there were individual differences observed between animals and the level of impact on their behavior. Using enrichment to increase the amount of time that zoo-housed gorillas spend searching for, acquiring, and consuming food can increase their overall activity levels and shift their behavior towards a more naturalistic direction.