Fangmeier, M. L., Burns, A. L., Melfi, V. A. et al. 2020. Foraging enrichment alleviates oral repetitive behaviors in captive red-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii). Zoo Biology 39(1), 3-12.

The relationship between inadequate foraging opportunities and the expression of oral repetitive behaviors has been well documented in many production animal species. However, this relationship has been less-well examined in zoo-housed animals, particularly avian species. The expression of oral repetitive behavior may embody a frustrated foraging response, and may therefore be alleviated with the provision of foraging enrichment. In this study, we examined the effect of different foraging-based enrichment items on a group of captive red-tailed black cockatoos who were previously observed performing oral repetitive behavior. A group of six cockatoos were presented with five foraging enrichment conditions (no enrichment (control), sliced cucumber, fresh grass, baffle cages, and millet discs). Baseline activity budgets were established over a 10-day preintervention period and interventions were then presented systematically over a 25-day experimental period. This study demonstrated that the provision of foraging interventions effectively increased the median percentage of time spent foraging compared to control conditions (range, 5.0-31.7% across interventions vs. 5.0% for control), with two of the interventions; grass and millet discs, significantly decreasing the expression of oral repetitive behaviors (control = 16.6 vs. 8.3% for both grass and millet discs). Finally, a rapid-scoring method utilized by zookeepers during the study proved to be a useful proxy for the amount of time the cockatoos spent interacting with the foraging interventions and overall time spent foraging.

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