Cannon, T. H., Heistermann, M., Hankison, S. J. et al. 2016. Tailored enrichment strategies and stereotypic behavior in captive individually housed macaques (Macaca spp.). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 19(2), 171-182.
The welfare of nonhuman animals in captivity is widely dependent on the natural psychological, physical, and behavioral needs of the animals and how adequately these needs are met. Inability to engage in natural behaviors can lead to chronic stress and expression of stereotypic behavior. The majority of research on decreasing stereotypic behavior in captivity addresses problems at the group level and does not account for individual variability in each animal’s needs, history, and preferences. This study combined physiological and behavioral measures of well being to comprehensively assess the unique needs of individually housed captive macaques (Macaca spp.) with the aim of developing tailored welfare strategies. Behavioral and hormonal data were collected under 2 conditions: baseline and individualized enrichment. The results showed a significant decrease in stereotypic behavior under the enrichment condition. Additionally, 7 out of 9 individuals showed a decrease in fecal glucocorticoid (stress hormone) levels, indicating a reduction in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity. Addressing welfare on an individual, rather than group, level allows for a better overall characterization of well being and maximizes the probability of improving the welfare of each animal.