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Benchmarking Enrichment Efforts in the US & Canada Across Species and Enrichment Categories

LaFollette, Megan R, Cloutier, Sylvie, Brady, Colleen M, O'Haire, Marguerite E and Gaskill, Brianna N (2023) Benchmarking Enrichment Efforts in the US & Canada Across Species and Enrichment Categories. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, 62 (4). pp. 1-14. ISSN 1559-6109


Enrichment is important for animal welfare and data quality. Provision of enrichment opportunities varies between species
and enrichment category. However, data benchmarking these differences does not exist. Our objective was to characterize enrichment
provision and associated factors across species in the US and Canada. Personnel who work with research animals (n
= 1098) in the US and Canada voluntarily responded to online promotions and completed a survey about enrichment used for
the species they worked with most, their control of and wish for more enrichment, stress or pain in the animals they worked
the most with, and demographics. All participants (except those working with rats) received the same questionnaire regardless
of species to allow objectivity, as the effects of many enrichment items on some species have not yet been determined.
The questionnaire asked about enrichments that were beneficial to at least one species. The provision of enrichment was
allocated into 2 outcome variables: diversity and frequency per enrichment category. Results showed a significant interaction
between enrichment category and species. Generally, physical, nutritional, and sensory enrichments were provided less often
than social enrichment. In addition, nonhuman primates received more diverse and more frequent enrichment than did other
species (twice as much as rats and mice). Enrichment was provided less frequently by personnel who wished they could do
more than the status quo. Both enrichment frequency and diversity were higher in respondents from Canada, those who had
more control over provision, and those who had been in the field longer. While our results cannot be used to determine the
quality of enrichment provided to various species, they do provide information on current enrichment practices in the US
and Canada and identify differences in implementation by species and enrichment category. The data also indicate provision
of enrichment is influenced by factors such as country and individual control over enrichment. This information can also be
used to identify areas for greater enrichment efforts for some species (for example, rats and mice) and categories, with the
ultimate goal of improving animal welfare.

Item Type: Article
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2023 00:45
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2023 00:45