I started this organization because of the challenges faced implementing enrichment/behavior management programs in multiple facilities. I was sick of the constant rejections of new enrichment ideas that would both increase animal welfare and advance research. I yearned for a website that I could use as resource for building my facilities’ enrichment program. I yearned for a group I could vent to when my enrichment ideas were rejected. I even wished I had a group to talk to on how to pivot my ideas, create buy-in from the staff and change the culture of my facility to an enrichment-welcome zone. I wanted to be involved in an organization where I could discover enrichment items based off the behaviors of those species.
While I was able to create a successful enrichment program at my facility, I knew other facilities would not be so lucky to have the support I did.
While I was able to create a successful enrichment program at my facility, I knew other facilities would not be so lucky to have the support I did. Thus it was imperative of me to start something that served as not only a resource for passionate enrichment staff, but also as a think tank to discover enrichment ideas, collaborate on enrichment projects, and participate in detailed discussions on how to overcome enrichment/behavior management challenges. More research needs to be performed on the efficacy of new enrichment practices. Not only will the American Association for Laboratory Enrichment be a resource for all lab animal professionals, it will serve as an outreach program to change the culture of enrichment and behavior management practices. All laboratory animals deserve a program to where they are encouraged to exhibit natural behaviors. Through AALAE, I pledge to be on the forefront of helping enrichment/behavior management programs be a priority in all lab animal facilities. Psychological animal health is just as important as physiological health.
AALAE Founder and President, Kristina Bartley