Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Does simple feeding enrichment raise activity levels of captive ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)?

Published source details

Dishman D.L., Thomson D.M. & Karnovsky N.J. (2009) Does simple feeding enrichment raise activity levels of captive ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)? Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 116, 88-95


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Primates: Hide food in containers (including boxes and bags) Management of Captive Animals

A before-and-after study in 2005–2006 in the USA (Dishman et al. 2009) found that adding browse to hide food in boxes significantly raised activity levels in ring tailed lemurs Lemur catta compared to when browse was presented on the floor of the enclosure along with food presented at a regular feeding station. Adding browse to food in boxes more than doubled (to 79%) the percentage of observation periods when at least one lemur was active. It also increased the percentage of active behaviours during that period from 4% of observations to 13% of observations. Spatially separating the four boxes reduced the amount of food that lemurs stole from other animals in the mixed enclosure by half (0.2% of observations to 0.1% of observations). The lemurs were presented with four treatments: food was added to four open boxes placed together and browse scattered on the floor of the enclosure; food scattered in the browse and added to boxes placed together; food added to boxes placed apart and browse scattered on the floor; food scattered in the browse and added to boxes placed apart. A group of eight lemurs, living in a mixed enclosure with hyrax and porcupine, were scanned every 60 seconds for two hours per day over six days and behaviours recorded. Boxes were given to the lemurs every day, with a different treatment given each day.    (CJ)