Greeson, J. L., Gabriel, K. I., Mulcahy, J. B. et al. 2022. An evaluation of ethograms measuring distinct features of enrichment use by captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Animals 12(16), 2029.
Environmental enrichment provides mental stimulation and minimizes abnormal behaviors in captive animals. In captive chimpanzees, individual animals may vary in the ways in which they benefit from enrichment or use enrichment devices, so investigating nuances in enrichment use may improve the welfare of captive chimpanzees. In the current study, three ethograms measuring distinct features of enrichment use (i.e., enrichment object, manipulation behavior, and social context) were evaluated by coding videos of captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, WA. A total of 732 min and 58 s of video footage was coded from a larger video archive (i.e., 2054 videos) of enrichment use that spanned a decade. A principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that different categories of enrichment objects were more often associated with specific manipulation behaviors and social contexts, suggesting that enrichment objects might fulfill different behavioral and social needs in captivity. Specifically, toy objects were associated with active tactile behaviors in affiliative contexts while oral behaviors were used with foraging objects in solitary contexts. Additionally, individual chimpanzees showed unique preferences for enrichment objects, indicating that caregivers of captive chimpanzees should consider individual needs instead of a “one size fits all” approach to enrichment provisions.