Mmmm….Enrichment!: Using Behavior Analysis to Model, Manage, Maximize, and Maintain Environmental Enrichment Programs in Applied Animal Settings
October 27 – 29, 2017
Today’s animal care professionals are held to high standards of welfare for the animals in their care. Environmental enrichment is a key component of behavior management programs. Although there is a rich scientific literature on effective enrichment strategies, many applied animal facilities report lacking time, staff, and resources to implement and maintain an effective enrichment program. This workshop will provide attendees with an overview of how the science and practice of behavior analysis are being utilized in animal care settings to evaluate enrichment effectiveness to promote animal welfare. Held at world-renowned Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, participants will be able to directly observe how behavioral principles are being used to guide animal care practices. Participants will learn how to successfully implement enrichment assessments efficiently and practically. Attendees will achieve workshop learning objectives through a balanced presentation of lecture, guided practice, video demonstrations, direct observation, and group discussion. Supplemental materials for reviewing enrichment programs and ethograms will also be provided. Participants will also learn how to conduct assessments, and be guided through video demonstrations of experiments, preference assessments and observational assessments with a variety of species in zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, wildlife parks, and animal shelters. Attendees will also participate in discussions about the ethical use of these procedures in their respective animal care settings. Participants will learn best practices for designing, developing, and review enrichment programs using individual-level analysis to facilitate husbandry goals for a variety of species. Participants will also learn how to successfully implement assessment and evaluation tools for husbandry strategies in zoological settings. This workshop is well-suited to animal care professionals who want to learn more about integrating the science of enrichment into their facilities and acquire practical ways for doing so. In addition, this workshop is also relevant to students or professionals in behavior analysis/behavioral science interested in learning how to collaborate with zoological institutions and animal care facilities.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will be able to:
1. Operationally define environmental enrichment and identify ways in which enrichment strategies are scientifically deemed effective,
2. Identify, review, and critique applications of enrichment implementation practices for variety of species,
3. Design and implement species-appropriate enrichment strategies with wolves, coyotes, and/or foxes at Wolf Park
4. Receive training and information on a variety of data collection methods for evaluating enrichment effectiveness that are both practical and informative,
5. Conduct live observations and collect data on enrichment strategies with wolves, coyotes, and/or foxes at Wolf Park, including identifying individual animal’s preferences for different enrichment strategies,
6. Recognize and discuss variables to consider to ensure ethical and effective implementation and evaluation of enrichment in applied animal settings
Biography: Dr. Lindsay Mehrkam is an assistant professor of psychology at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey where she directs the Human & Animal Welfare Collaboratory (HAWC). Her research program explores how human interaction influences play, aggression, and stereotypic behavior and best practices for conducting formal evaluations of training and enrichment practices in a variety of animal settings. Her primary research interests in applied animal behavior focus on the benefits of human-animal interaction, enrichment, and training for improving the welfare of captive animals, and especially canines. Lindsay’s research has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at national and international conferences, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, humane societies, and animal advocacy organizations. and has been recognized through popular media outlets, grants, and scholarly and industry awards, including the Association for Professional Dog Trainers. In addition to serving on the Advisory Board for Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary, Lindsay is a member of the Research & Evaluation Committee for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) and serves as the Vice President for the Applied Animal Behavior Special Interest Group for the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI). She is also a doctoral-level Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and provides clinical and in-home behavioral consultations for both exotic and companion animals as well as individuals with intellectual disabilities. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring and photographing the eclectic Jersey Shore with her two rescue dogs Kobe and Ian. Lindsay received her Masters and Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Behavior Analysis from the University of Florida.