Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


43rd Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2017

Event Details

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Symposium #410
Behavior Analysis in Zoological Settings: Behavioral Assessments and Welfare
Monday, May 29, 2017
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Hyatt Regency, Centennial Ballroom H
Area: AAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Kathryn L. Kalafut (Antioch College)
Discussant: Kenneth T Ramirez (Karen Pryor Clicker Training)
Abstract: This symposium illustrates the power of behavior analysis techniques, practices and analysis in the setting of captive animal institutions. These institutions provide a great opportunity for environmental control and behavioral manipulation. Environmental and behavior manipulations in captive animal settings are often aimed at enhancing the welfare of the animals within their care. Providing the opportunity for animals to behave as naturally as possible, as well as understanding their preferences, can have dramatic effects. The data presented here shows how preference assessments can enhance naturalistic behaviors (with Loggerhead Sea Turtles and dolphins), how more naturalistic behavior can effect physical health (with Little Blue penguins), and how single-subject research designs are not only feasible, but allow for enhanced data-based decisions to be made in a captive setting (with African Lions).
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): animal welfare, applied, environmental enrichment, preference assessments
Preferences for Environmental Enrichment in Bottlenose Dolphins
LINDSAY RENEE MEHRKAM (Oregon State University), Nicole R. Dorey (University of Florida)
Abstract: The aim of this study was to determine if paired-stimulus preference assessments (PSPAs) could be used to identify high-preferred environmental enrichment devices (EEDs) for 20 bottlenose dolphins at Sea World Orlando and Discovery Cove. Each PSPA consisted of four EEDs presented across 12 two-minute trials. Preference assessment results for nine individual dolphins at Sea World and 11 individual dolphins at Discovery Cove are shown in Figure 1a and Figure 1b, respectively. The aggregate results for all dolphins at both Sea World and Discovery Cove are displayed in Figure 2. At the group level, the buoy was the most preferred EED on average (chosen in 63.4% of all trials in which it was presented), followed by the sausage (chosen in 56.7% of all trials); the boomer ball and the hoop were both nearly equally low-preferred EEDs on average. In addition, clear individual differences in EED preference were observed. Although preference assessments have been extended to a number of species, this study is the first to successfully demonstrate the use of PSPAs with bottlenose dolphins. These results add to the growing empirical literature on captive cetacean enrichment and the importance of promoting choice and control for animals in these settings.
Assessing Color Preference in Loggerhead Sea Turtles
AMANDA MAHONEY (Savannah State University), Alexis Fleming (Savannah State University), Ashley Lee (Savannah State University), Sequoyah Thurmond (Savannah State University), Satta Kpaan (Savannah State University), Jasmine Benning (Savannah State University)
Abstract: Although environmental enrichment procedures have demonstrated their benefit to animals in zoos and aquariums, few studies have been conducted with reptiles, specifically marine turtles. Recently, it has been demonstrated that loggerhead sea turtles have true color vision and so it is possible that these turtles may be more sensitive to certain colors, as previous research has indicated. If this is the case, enrichment devices utilized in aquariums should accommodate this preference. This paper will present data from two loggerhead sea turtles demonstrating a color preference hierarchy. For both turtles we assessed color sensitivity in a restricted operant arrangement. For one turtle we conducted further assessments in a free operant arrangement and for the second turtle we conducted additional assessments during which we varied the background color to control for contrast effects. Results indicate a sensitivity toward yellow for both turtles in both the restricted and free operant arrangements. The color preference hierarchy for the second turtle was not disrupted by the background color, but choice was more evenly distributed among colors.

Evaluation of Strategies Designed to Reduce Stereotypic Pacing in an African Lion (Panthera leo)

CHRISTY A. ALLIGOOD (Disney's Animal Kingdom and Florida Institute of Technology), Angela Miller (Disney’s Animal Kingdom), Katherine A. Leighty (Education and Science, Disney's Animal Kingdom)

When stereotypic pacing occurs at high rates among carnivores in human care, it can replace other species-typical behaviors. Additive enrichment strategies have often been employed to mitigate this behavior. A multiple baseline across contexts design was used to evaluate the effects of additive enrichment strategies, as well as the opportunistic introduction of a social management strategy, on stereotypic pacing in a geriatric female African Lion. Caregiver-recorded rates of stereotypic pacing were reduced from 80-100% of point scans during baseline to 0-20% of point scans after introduction of the social management strategy. This study provides an example of caregiver-directed evaluation of behavior change in a zoological setting. The successful strategy occurred opportunistically and evaluation of its effect was only possible because caregivers were already evaluating other strategies. This study demonstrates the utility of data-based decision making for behavioral management of animals in human care. The study demonstrates the utility of single-case evaluation methods for answering questions about the application of environmental enrichment strategies to the behavior of individual animals.

The Effects of Increased Swimming on Bumblefoot in Little Blue Penguins (Eudyptula minor)
KATHRYN L. KALAFUT (Antioch College), Rickey Kinley (Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden)
Abstract: Bumblefoot, or pododermatitis, is a bacterial infection of the foot that commonly occurs in captive birds, including penguins (AZA, 2014). Recent research has found that bumblefoot lesions can be reduced through the use of environmental enrichment (Reisfield, et al., 2013). This research validates the efficacy of behavioral interventions in decreasing or eliminating lesions, but fails to provide any behavioral data. The goals of this research are to quantify the behavioral changes necessary in order to decrease or eliminate bumblefoot lesions, as well as determine the necessary behaviors in order to prevent its re-occurrence. Little Blue penguins (Eudyptula minor) housed at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (five suffering from bumblefoot and others free from current lesions) served as subjects. Using radio-frequency technology (RF-ID), behavioral measures include the daily amount of time spent swimming and standing on various substrates. Physical measures include the diameter of lesions. Using a multiple baseline design, different treatments are implemented used across individuals in attempt to increase swimming time. Results show a relationship between swimming behavior and bumblefoot severity.



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