Author

Emma Meteyer

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

William M. Shields

Keywords

game for cats, creative play

Abstract

Environmental enrichment is an important part of animal husbandry. Enrichment can reduce and prevent the display of stereotypies, improving the wellbeing of captive animals. A video of penguins in a California aquarium explored the use of tablet computers as a form of enrichment. This research explored the effects of the novel form of enrichment on Humboldt penguin chicks at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. I presented chicks with a tablet computer and assessed how they behaved in the presence of the new toy. I presented the tablet to the penguins in three different states then compared the frequency of observed behaviors to the control. I expected the chicks to approach the tablet and peck at the screen when the tablet was on. The chicks showed little interest in the device. Due to the limitations of individual animal statistics, I was unable to generalize to the larger population of Humboldt penguins and was only able to make claims to the effects of tablet interactions for the specific subjects in this study. The chicks in this study more frequently exhibited exploratory behavior, rather than self-maintenance in the presence of the tablet. It is possible that given reinforcement, other members of the colony would play with a tablet. Implementing novel environmental enrichment is important so that captive animals remain challenged, interested, and healthy.

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