The Effects of Olfactory Stimulation on the Behaviour of Captive Ring-Tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta).

Brittanny Baker, V. Tamara Montrose

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Although Ring-Tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) are widely kept in more than 300 zoos worldwide, there is minimal research into methods of environmental enrichment for captive Ring-Tailed lemurs. The use of olfactory stimulation, via biologically (e.g. urine, faeces, prey) and/or non-biologically relevant odours (e.g. essential oils, plant matter), has been demonstrated to enhance welfare in a range of captive species by increasing species-typical behaviours and behavioural diversity and by reducing stereotypical behaviours. The current study aimed to determine the effects of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of captive Ring-Tailed lemurs in response to six individual odour treatments (novel object control, odour control, lavender, peppermint, coconut and Morio worms). Eight captive Ring-Tailed lemurs (two males and six females) were observed at Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park (Birmingham, UK) over a six week period. Each week the lemurs were exposed via scented cloths to one olfactory condition for three days (four hours a day) with four days between conditions. The lemurs’ behaviour (e.g. affiliative, agonistic, solitary, stereotypic, vigilance and vocalisation) were recorded using an ethogram. Behaviours were recorded every five minutes using instantaneous scan sampling, providing 48 observations of each lemur’s behaviour per day. Data were analysed using Friedman ANOVA with post hoc Bonferroni corrected Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Tests. Friedman ANOVA analysis found significant effects of olfactory condition on sitting in contact, mutual grooming, sitting, submissive chatter, social playing, chasing, scent-marking, foraging, drinking, locomotive, resting, self-grooming, anti-predatory and contact calling behaviour. However Post-Hoc analysis found no significant differences between the olfactory conditions. Overall, the findings suggest that olfactory stimulation in the form of odour-scented cloths does not provide a marked influence on the behaviour of captive Ring-Tailed lemurs. However, further investigation using a greater sample size and odours of more biological relevance should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2017


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