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Addressing animal enrichment

The new Guide addresses animal enrichment in a number of ways. The guide is more clear about the role of enrichment in maintaining animal health and well-being. Well planned enrichment for any animal involves choices for the animal; to socialize or not, to be active or not, be seen or not;-in short, to have control. The expectation is that enrichment allows for expression of species typical behaviors.

Enrichment should be reviewed by the IACUC and veterinarian to assure well being and appropriateness and should never introduce additional stress to the animal. The Guide also acknowledges the concerns of researchers about the potential effects of enrichment on the outcome of research studies by introducing a variable.

Both structural and manipulative elements are addressed. Structural elements include perches, shelves, shelters and visual barriers; manipulative items include opportunities for foraging, toys, chew sticks, and novel objects. . The Guide also discusses consideration of vertical space in addition to floor area when housing primates. According to the Guide Complexities of the animals needs must be considered; vertical and spatial arrangements may be as important as floor area (p. 56). There is a strong narrative throughout the document for social housing unless the research precludes it. This is a departure from previous versions.

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science has posted a document comparing the new version of the Guide to the previous version. You can access the free download at

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