Abstract # 193:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 20, 2005 08:30 AM-08:45 AM: Session 14 (Mayfair Room) Oral Presentation

Enhancing computer-assisted enrichment through multiple computer-joystick systems for captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus)

S. Mallavarapu1,2, C. W. Kuhar2, M. A. Bloomsmith3 and T. L. Maple2
1Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave. SE, Atlanta, GA 30315, USA, 2Center for Conservation and Behavior, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, 3Yerkes National Primate Research Center
     Most enrichment devices tested for nonhuman primates have limitations, such as rapid habituation. Computer-assisted enrichment may overcome some limitations by using increasingly complex and unpredictable tasks, with control over reward acquisition. This tri-phasic study examined the effects of multiple computer-joystick systems as enrichment for eight orangutans housed in male/female pairs at Zoo Atlanta. Subjects were observed for 80 hours during each phase (baseline, 1-computer, and 2-computer). Tasks involved subjects moving a cursor to touch a stationary target, a moving target, and to navigate a maze. Data were collected in one-hour sessions using instantaneous group scan sampling, and analyzed using Wilcoxon signed ranks tests (P = 0.05). Subjects spent a mean of 23% of the scans using the system when one computer was available, and 29% of the scans when two computers were available. However, there was a wide variation between subjects, the range being 1% to 93%. When comparing one computer to baseline, there was decreased arboreality and social contact, and increased self-directed behavior, scratching, and social proximity. The addition of a second computer resulted in decreased social play and social proximity, and increased self-directed behavior. Lack of habituation to the computer and insignificant change in overall negative behavior indicate that computer-assisted enrichment using multiple systems may be effective, but it is unclear whether reduced socialization is detrimental to some orangutans.