Grisa, R., Bertelé, M., Vaglio, S. et al. 2013. A therapeutic environmental enrichment programme for managing pathological behaviour in the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 1(1), 41–43.
This study is based on an adult male fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) that arrived at Garda Zoological Park (Italy) exhibiting stereotyped and self-injuring behaviours and follows its subsequent rehabilitation through a long-term environmental enrichment programme. Data were collected over a period of six months. Continuous focal animal sampling was used to collect behavioural data during 90-minute sessions; 24 sessions took place over the first two months and two sessions took place six months after his arrival. Data were analysed using non-parametric tests. At the beginning of the study period, the predatory behaviour of the fossa was not species-specific since he was not able to find food items when they were hidden in the enclosure. It usually interacted with items for just a few minutes. Rubbing different scents on enclosure furniture promoted play only for a few minutes. After two months of behavioural observations, its behaviour only improved slightly and stereotyped and self-injuring behaviours were maintained. However, we continued the intense enrichment programme for a longer period. Six months after its arrival rare undesirable behaviours or noticeable side effects were observed whilst species-specific behaviours were recorded. Results showed that the environmental enrichment curtailed the aberrant behaviours. In conclusion, this case study provides evidence supporting the hypothesis that a suitable enrichment programme could have a therapeutic effect on pathological behaviour in captive animals.