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In the context of a current global biodiversity crisis, conservation biologists study how best to preserve species and their habitats. In threatened habitats, ex situ conservation efforts are often necessary. Sanctuaries are a special form of ex situ conservation since they do not participate in captive breeding and they retain animals permanently. They have the dual goal of education on the importance of conservation, and to provide animals in need with a place to go. Improving the well-being of animals can be accomplished through enrichment. Enrichment provides animals with stimuli that elicit behaviours akin to their wild counterparts, keeping them physically and psychologically active. Wild marmosets spend up to 60% of their time foraging. In captivity, this is reduced because there is no need to search for food. Marmosets have specialized teeth to gouge and suck sap from trees. Captive marmosets can easily lose this ability due to lack of opportunity to practice the behaviour. Providing more challenging ways for marmosets to obtain their food has resulted in significant behavioural changes in prior studies. Apparatuses that distribute fruit, insects, and acacia gum have been explored. Acacia gum devices simulate exudates that marmosets would find in the wild and provide desirable foraging enrichment. However, acacia gum is not readily available in all countries and there is a lack of knowledge concerning the efficacy of gum-like substitutes. This study created an innovative foraging apparatus that utilized honey and investigated the response of seven captive common marmosets to the introduction of this novel device. This is the first study of its kind to examine a gum-like substitute. Upon exposure to the device, animals increased their foraging time by more than 2.5 times, while inactivity decreased by 22%. Overall, results indicate that foraging enrichment using sap-like substitutes other than acacia gum can be beneficial and efficient. Interest in the device waned with time, decreasing by 56% over four weeks. These findings contribute knowledge to sanctuary enrichment and can aid in other ex situ conservation efforts.
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Stothoff, Martie Ilena, "Investigating the Behavioural Response of Captive Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) to the Introduction of a Novel Foraging-Enrichment Device" (2016). Senior Projects Fall 2016. 58.
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