Individuality versus sociality in learning capabilities of North American River Otters (Lontra canadensis)

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Over the centuries, wild animals have always fascinated humans. As a result, wild animals have been put on display, but the logistics of these displays have changed throughout the years to resemble zoos humans now visit (Rutledge et al, 2014). Enclosures were once very small and did not provide the opportunity for stimulation that the animals need. There has been a shift from small, sterile enclosures to larger, more natural enclosures (Shepherdson, 1998). This change in the care of captive animals was caused by an interest in studying the animals (Shepherdson, 1998). Studies have revealed the importance of providing captive animals with an environment in which behaviors typical of the captive species, when in the wild, can be exercised in the enclosures in which they are housed (Shepherdson, 1998). By mimicking a natural habitat, scientists are able to observe more natural behavior. If enrichment is not provided, stereotypic behavior such as pacing, aggression, and abnormal behavior, may occur. In order to discourage these stereotypic behaviors, zoologists have begun implementing enrichment programs to stimulate the captive animals to exhibit more natural behaviors (Swaisgood and Shepherdson, 2005). Enrichment works to diminish stereotypic behavior and increase the natural behavior of animals by sculpting the environment of captive animals to provide them with an environment more similar to that of their wild habitat. Additionally, it provides different

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