Perez, B. C., Mehrkam, L. R., Foltz, A. R. et al. 2018. Effects of enrichment presentation and other factors on behavioral welfare of pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata). Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 21(2), 130-140.
Environmental enrichment is a crucial element of promoting welfare for animals in captivity. However, enrichment programs are not always formally evaluated for their efficacy. Furthermore, there is little empirical evidence of enrichment evaluation for species of small cetaceans in zoological settings. A wide range of variables may potentially influence enrichment efficacy and how it in turn affects behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine the most preferred environmental enrichment, and method of presentation, for a species that has not been well studied in captivity, the pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata). In order to determine which enrichment items and method of presentation were most effective at eliciting enrichment interaction, we systematically examined how several variables of enrichment influenced enrichment interaction. The results suggested that presenting enrichment after training sessions influenced interaction with the enrichment. The results also indicated preference for enrichment type and a specific enrichment device. Finally, factors that influenced interaction were also found to influence aberrant behavior. The results support the premise that enrichment be “redefined” for each species and each individual.