Olfactory Enrichment for Captive Snow Leopards (Uncia uncia)
In this study I assessed the effect of objects and odors as environmental enrichment for two captive snow leopards (Uncia uncia) at Kolmården Wildlife Park. Five odors (lavender, lemon balm, cumin, cinnamon and catnip) were used to impregnate four different types of enrichment objects (boomer balls®, tennis balls, ropes, logs). During test sessions, one odorized and one non-odorized enrichment object of the same type were introduced in the snow leopards’ outdoor enclosure. The behavior, activity and location of the snow leopards were recorded and compared to their behavior during baseline sessions. During the test sessions I recorded the number and types of interactions with the enrichment objects. Both snow leopards interacted more often with odorized than with non-odorized enrichment objects. The number of interactions differed markedly between the types of enrichment objects and between the different odors. Both snow leopards interacted most often with boomer balls® and least often with logs. They interacted most often with cinnamon and least often with lemon balm (Brahma) and catnip (Binu). The results suggest that both the type of object and the odor play a role in capturing the interest of the snow leopards. The snow leopards behavioral diversity increased during the study and they could increase their performance of species-specific behavior. I did not see any indications of habituation during the testing period. The results indicate that enrichment objects impregnated with odors can be an effective environmental enrichment for captive snow leopards.
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