Deugan, C. R., Gross, A. A. 2023. Nonhuman primate enrichment evaluation program. Laboratory Animal Science Professional 11(2) (March/April), 46-49.

Noting that it is typical for enrichment devices to be approved by a committee and understanding that this is paramount for animal safety, we began to think outside the box and seek additional ways to approve enrichment devices for the non-human primates at our facility. We created a program that would allow the animals to have a voice in their enrichment device selection. A scoring system was created as a means of tracking objectively how the animals interacted with the various devices. New enrichment devices were purchased or created inhouse as our pilot program devices. Thus, giving rise to the program, we now refer to as NHPeep. Over the period of seven weeks, 25 cynomolgus macaques (11 males, 14 females) were observed and scored (in their social groups - pairs or trios) on their interactions with each other and their enrichment devices for the first 30 minutes after receiving the devices. Our first week of observations was with previously approved enrichment devices that included mirrors, metal triangles, and jingle balls without washers. These items were scored to serve as a baseline. The remaining timeframe was spent scoring the animals with novel enrichment items. Scoring was used to evaluate the device’s durability, the animals’ ability to master, animals’ use and attention, the device’s ability to reduce stereotypical behaviors, and its impact on social dynamics. Stereotypic behavior was reduced within ten days from the initiation of novel devices. Overall, the enrichment devices utilized during our environmental enrichment project proved to be useful in reducing stereotypical behavior. An increase in rotation frequency with the addition of destructible or edible enrichment was observed to be more impactful in treating stereotypy than the currently accepted clinical treatment regimen. Shifting from the twice-weekly treatment of abnormal behavior with standard enrichment devices to devices that encourage natural behaviors on a daily basis, and affording all animals within the social group availability to the novel devices, created an environment conducive to correcting unwanted behaviors.