Hedrick, C., Rowley, M., Lewis, S. 2014. Repurposing and recycling an institutionally retired enrichment device. American Association for Laboratory Animal Science [AALAS] Meeting Official Program, 564 (Abstract #P56).
One aspect of maintaining and updating an environmental enrichment program is regular review of enrichment devices and their current uses. The review includes maintaining an accurate inventory to reflect the animal census, evaluating species-specific use, product sustainability and the replacement of older items with new and novel devices as needed. Items that are removed from the regular rotation are disposed of, sold to another institution, or repurposed whenever possible. Our institution removed from rotation an open-bottomed, red, triangular, high-temperature, polycarbonate enrichment device that was previously used for mice. This structurally sound device was removed from device rotation to accommodate a new device being implemented. Following evaluation, this retired device was determined to be usable as a repurposed device. The triangular device was able to be inexpensively repurposed in-house, into a novel customized 3-tier hanging enrichment device that can be used across multiple species compared with the initial single species use. The hanging device was created by drilling through the center crease of 3 polycarbonate triangles with a 5/32-in. drill bit and were linked together using 9 in. of 304 stainless steel ¾-in. link chain with 3 in. of chain separating each individual device. The device could then be hung from a supporting structure within an animal’s cage with a stainless steel quick link. Due to center chain placement, the triangles can be manipulated as a whole or by the animal turning each individual triangle, thus increasing the forms of manipulation and novelty. This device can be further enhanced by including nutritional enrichment, such as honey or by freezing part or all of it in a water and fruit mixture. In comparison to a commonly used commercially available hanging device that serves a similar purpose, the inhouse customized device had a cost savings of 49%. By repurposing and recycling an animal enrichment device that was taken out of rotation, we were able to create a simple, cost effective, novel device that can be used by multiple species at our institution.