Laméris, D. W., Verspeek, J., Depoortere, A. et al. 2021. Effects of enclosure and environmental enrichment on the behaviour of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta). Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 2(2), 164–173.

Environmental enrichment is widely used to improve the quality of life of animals under human care. To successfully implement enrichment programs, it is important to evaluate their effect in different enclosure types since housing conditions may change depending on external factors, such as husbandry, management, or seasonal variation. This study investigates how ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) behaviour changes with the availability of enrichment items and the type of enclosure the animals are housed in. Through observations, we compared the behaviour of the lemurs in an indoor and outdoor enclosure, both without and with enrichment items. Although we observed enrichment effects, we found that enclosure type had a bigger effect on the lemurs’ behaviour. Additionally, behavioural changes induced by enrichment items differed between indoor and outdoor enclosures. These results indicate that the effectiveness of enrichment items may depend on the enclosure in which they are provided and consequently suggest that the impact of these programs should not be generalised over enclosure types. This highlights that the evaluation of environmental enrichment programs remains important when optimising zoo animal welfare.

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