LaFollette, M. R., Cloutier, S., Brady, C. M. et al. 2023. Benchmarking enrichment efforts in the US & Canada across species and enrichment categories. JAALAS 62(4), 303–316.

Enrichment is important for animal welfare and data quality. Provision of enrichment opportunities varies between species and enrichment category. However, data benchmarking these differences does not exist. Our objective was to characterize enrichment provision and associated factors across species in the US and Canada. Personnel who work with research animals (n = 1098) in the US and Canada voluntarily responded to online promotions and completed a survey about enrichment used for the species they worked with most, their control of and wish for more enrichment, stress or pain in the animals they worked the most with, and demographics. All participants (except those working with rats) received the same questionnaire regardless of species to allow objectivity, as the effects of many enrichment items on some species have not yet been determined. The questionnaire asked about enrichments that were beneficial to at least one species. The provision of enrichment was allocated into 2 outcome variables: diversity and frequency per enrichment category. Results showed a significant interaction between enrichment category and species. Generally, physical, nutritional, and sensory enrichments were provided less often than social enrichment. In addition, nonhuman primates received more diverse and more frequent enrichment than did other species (twice as much as rats and mice). Enrichment was provided less frequently by personnel who wished they could do more than the status quo. Both enrichment frequency and diversity were higher in respondents from Canada, those who had more control over provision, and those who had been in the field longer. While our results cannot be used to determine the quality of enrichment provided to various species, they do provide information on current enrichment practices in the US and Canada and identify differences in implementation by species and enrichment category. The data also indicate provision of enrichment is influenced by factors such as country and individual control over enrichment. This information can also be used to identify areas for greater enrichment efforts for some species (for example, rats and mice) and categories, with the ultimate goal of improving animal welfare.