Projects:Behavioural enrichment of captive raptors

Introduction and rationale:

A major component of animal husbandry and research projects in zoos is the development of environmental enrichment methods. Various studies on a range of different species indicate that welfare benefits to captive animals can accrue from the implementation of these techniques.

These benefits can include a reduction in stereotypic behaviour, a greater expression of behaviour usually exhibited in the wild, and sometimes improved reproductive success.

As a group, raptors have largely been neglected in terms of developing enrichment methods. Some raptors (such as many owl species), owing to their largely nocturnal habits, present a significant challenge for enrichment development. Other, largely diurnal, species appear to offer greater potential in this area.

Regardless of the species in question, there is a need to investigate suitable methods of enrichment for captive raptors.

Aim: To develop effective tools for behavioural enrichment in captive raptors

Outcomes:

  • Clear guidelines for the development of enrichment methods in raptors
  • A manual/handbook of tested enrichment techniques for various raptor species

Benefits:

  • Improved animal husbandry and welfare
  • Additional and interesting information for visitors to the HCT

Comments: Study species currently include 10 owls, two Sea Eagles and three vultures.

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