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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Environmental Enrichment Committee

Kay L. Stewart

Both the US Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals and the Canadian Council on Animal Care Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals specify that suitable enrichment and social interaction with con-specifics should be considered when planning adequate housing for all laboratory animal species. In response to this dictum, the University of Notre Dame established an Environmental Enrichment Committee to develop, implement and assess an overall enrichment programme that encompasses all species housed at the Freimann Life Science Center. Although many enrichment strategies had been used prior to the formation of the committee, having the facility director formally authorize a committee gave the members credibility with the Principle Investigators, resources for programme development and time allotments for meetings and observations. The committee members began their assignment by defining the committee goals and responsibilities. Six categories for the enrichment strategies were established: social interaction, burrowing opportunities, perches and ramps, foraging opportunities, gnawing opportunities and food treats. A programme was developed to encompass the use of techniques within these categories with the animals that would benefit from them. Our experience is that the Environmental Enrichment Committee is an effective vehicle for the development and implementation of enrichment strategies.