Fernandez, E. J., Kinley, R. C., Timberlake, W. 2019. Training penguins to interact with enrichment devices for lasting effects. Zoo Biology 38(6), 481-489.
The modern zoo has brought about two major advances in the behavioral welfare of their exhibited animals: (a) The use of environmental enrichment to promote naturalistic behaviors and (b) the use of training to improve voluntary husbandry care. Whereas training itself has been talked about as an effective enrichment strategy, little has been done to combine training procedures with enrichment. Typically, enrichment is treated as a trial and error process, where potential enrichment items or procedures are cycled through until successful enrichment is found. The use of shaping or other training techniques has seldom been documented to increase engagement with possible enrichment items or procedures. The following study examined the possibility of combining training and enrichment to produce continued interactions with enrichment devices. Two species of penguin, Magellanic and southern rockhopper penguins, were studied. Two measures were taken: Time spent swimming and contact with enrichment devices. The enrichment devices could be manipulated by placing fish within and hanging out of each device. During baseline sessions, no hits to either device were observed. During training sessions, several hits were recorded when fish were in the devices and overall swimming time increased during these conditions. When baseline was reintroduced without fish in the devices, contact with the enrichment devices rapidly declined and swimming time for the rockhopper penguins decreased. When the devices were reintroduced with fish but without training, the greatest number of enrichment device contacts and the highest percentage of time spent swimming were observed for the rockhopper penguins.