Enrichment Preferences of Raptors at Elmwood Park Zoo

Elisa Tyler Tyler


Environmental enrichment is often offered to animals in captivity to aid in enhancing quality of life by providing appropriate environmental stimuli that improve psychological and physiological well-being. Due to the limited amount of research conducted on raptors and enrichment, I sought to determine raptor preferences of enrichment types through the observation of captive bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) in the education department at Elmwood Park Zoo. I predicted that the raptors would interact more with natural enrichment items compared to ones that were man-made. Although results showed only the female bald eagle to interact enough with the enrichment items to gather an adequate number of observations, she was found to interact significantly more frequently with natural enrichment items compared to ones that were man-made (p < 0.0001, FET). These results are not meant to infer that all female bald eagles prefer natural enrichment items over man-made ones, or that all male bald eagles and female and male red-tailed hawks do not prefer any enrichment items. Nonetheless, they justify future research on environmental enrichment preferences involving many more individuals and many more taxa to determine more appropriate enrichment regimens for captive birds of prey.


birds of prey; zoo; enrichment; preferences; behavior

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33687/zoobiol.001.01.2239


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Journal of Zoo Biology
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