task training with the dogs which includes
teaching the dogs to sit, fetch, and walk on
a leash. The positive reinforcement training
is conducted with the use of clickers. The
training positively affects the behavior of
the dogs; they are calm, attentive to the
staff, and enjoy the interaction time. The
task training personnel are provided the
opportunity to learn a new skill and a fun
responsibility while working with the dogs.
PRIMATE TASK TRAINING
Primates are smart and utilizing their intelligence to incorporate task training into
their daily care can have multiple benefits.
The primate care technicians perform posi-
tive reinforcement training with the use
of clickers. Tasks include: target touching
games, cooperative feeding, moving to/
from cages, and having the primates pres-
ent a limb for voluntary blood collection
or an injection. Technicians spend several
minutes with each primate at least three
times per week. While goals such as pre-
senting for an injection or voluntary blood
collection are in place, it is the contact
time between the primate and trainer that
truly makes the difference. This training
has been especially important for those
primates unable to be socially housed. The
training positively affects the psychologi-
cal well-being of the primates, as well as
builds positive, trusting relationships with
the technicians. The technicians enjoy the
extensive social relationships they develop
with the primates through the interaction.
PRIMATE TUNNEL AND PLAY CAGE
Purchasing new caging systems or providing play cages for primates can be costly.
Therefore, primate structures that were
stored with no intention for future use
were redesigned to fulfill additional caging
needs. A caging system previously used
for temporarily restraining primates was
reduced in size so it could be used as a
conjoining tunnel between two standard
quadrant cages. Also, an extra standard
quadrant primate cage was repurposed into
a play cage (Figure 3). The sliding doors,
floor grates, and pans were all removed to
create an open play space for the primates.
Various hanging toys, a hammock, and a
wood branch for sitting were placed inside.
These repurposed structures provide new
and expanded space for the primates.
RABBIT PLAY AREA
Many rabbit caging systems currently in
use do not provide ample space for standing on hind limbs, running, and hopping;
all of which are normal rabbit behaviors.
Because of this, an open play area was
created in the rabbit room using child play
fences and bed pans from an unused rabbit cage (Figure 4). The structure has two
separate play areas both equipped with
hanging toys and floor toys for throwing.
Each section also has a hut for hiding or
jumping on top of, as well as adequate
space for quick sprints. Food and water is
provided in each area. Individual and so-
cially housed rabbits are rotated through
the play cages for a specific amount of
time daily. The rabbits utilize the items
and entire space of the play cage and have
shown calmer temperaments.
Throughout the revamping of the
environmental enrichment program,
department-wide awareness regarding the
importance of environmental enrichment
was brought by recruiting various staff
members that were not previously involved
with enrichment duties. The enhance-
ments improve the welfare of the animals
and provide fun team building activities
for staff apart from the normal work day.
Overall, the enhancements require little
cost for equipment by using repurposed
and donated materials and regulating the
amount of food treats purchased.
1. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory
Animals (8th Edition). The National Acad-emies Press – Washington DC
Anastasia Schimmel BS, RVT, RLATG is
as an Animal Health Technician with the
Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine
at the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated from California State
Polytechnic University, Pomona and has
worked with UCLA-DLAM for 11 years.
Renée Hlavka BS, RVT, RLATG is as an
Animal Health Technician with the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine at the
University of California, Los Angeles. She
received her Associate’s degree in Veterinary
Technology from Mt. San Antonio College
and later, graduated from California State
Polytechnic University, Pomona with a
Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Renée
has worked with UCLA-DLAM for six years.
Figure 4: Rabbit play area
Figure 3: Primate play cage repurposed from a
standard quadrant cage