Utilizing scents as environmental enrichment: Preference assessment and application with Rothschild giraffe

Zoological institutions use environmental enrichment to increase opportunities for animals to engage in species-appropriate behavior. In these facilities, enrichment for giraffe typically consists of different types of feeders to increase the percentage of time spent foraging. The current study explored the use of scent enrichment as a way to increase exploration, activity levels and space use in zoo-housed Rothschild giraffe. Study one investigated the preferences of individual giraffe to six scents while study two investigated how scent enrichment affected behavior when applied in their main exhibit. Results suggest that there are individual differences in scent preference in giraffe and that scents can be used to decrease inactivity and alter exhibit utilization in the short-term. If provided in appropriate areas, depending on the species, scent enrichment may promote a better experience for zoo visitors by bringing the animals closer to the viewing areas while benefiting the animals. Future research is still needed to better understand the effects of olfactory enrichment on zoo animals.

Last Updated
January 30, 2021
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