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What Does AALAE Do?

About AALAE

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Enrichment (AALAE) is an association dedicated to the advancement of animal enrichment within the laboratory sciences. We are comprised of the top professionals within the research community that aim to provide resources to the lab animal community regarding enrichment and behavior management.  Resources include educational materials, webinars, annual conferences, as well as roundtable sessions with the lab animal community.

Why is Enrichment Important?

Impact

Discourages/ Reduces Abnormal Behaviors

Behaviors such as circling, excessive flipping, bar biting,  and self biting, has largely been due to stress and boredom in an animal’s captive environment.  Utilizing enrichment practices and behavior management techniques have proven decrease these behaviors.

Encourages Species-Specific Behaviors

Enrichment such as foraging devices for monkeys, apple balls for pigs, and nesting material for mice, encourage natural behaviors like rooting, foraging, and nest building.  These enrichment items encourage behaviors seen in the wild.

Elicits Cooperation with Lab, Husbandry, and Veterinary Procedures

Regularly scheduled veterinary, research, and husbandry procedures such as administering injections, measuring weights, performing health checks, and even moving animals from a dirty cage to a clean cage can be stressful to laboratory animals, and the lab animal personnel.   Part of sustaining a successful enrichment/behavior management program is to implement a training program so animals are not stressed while undergoing these procedures.  Training animals via positive reinforcement training allows the animals to voluntarily cooperate with the lab animal personnel when performing a procedure.

1 Empty creamer container with holes drilled for treat dispenser
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What Does Enrichment Look Like?

Enriched Laboratory Animals

NHP Treat

Monkeys

Monkeys like rhesus macaques forage around 70% of the day in the wild.  Enrichment items such a wheat grass, plants, icees, foraging devices, or paper boxes filled with treats is the perfect enrichment for monkeys to exhibit this behavior.

Pig enrichment such as juice icees are perfect for pigs to exhibit rooting behavior.

Pigs

Pigs exhibit rooting behavior.  Enrichment items such as icees, round solid balls, paper boxes filled with treats, and pumpkins smeared with honey allow these animals to exhibit this natural behavior.

Sheep enjoy hay as enrichment.  Hay in nets, balls to promote rooting.

Sheep

Sheep are a gregarious species that prefer hay as enrichment.  Providing hay in structural  enrichment items such as nets, blue balls, and apple balls add variety to methods of enrichment distribution.

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Rodents

Rodents are a prey species that hide when threatened by a predator. Providing environmental enrichment such a nesting material gives them the ability to build complex nests. Also, providing an igloo gives them the ability to hide from potential aggressors, while also providing shelter for pups.

Round of Applause

Enrichment of the Month

Yorkshire Pigs enjoying their fruit cartons and exhibiting the exploratory, rooting and chewing behaviors.  Tap here to learn more!