All animals must receive appropriate and consistent environmental enrichment, such as manipulanda, radios/sound machines, or food enrichment. The nature of enrichment is species- and age- or developmental-stage-specific. Facilities provide standard enrichment based on the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals or the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching. Enrichment that deviates from the standard of care provided by a facility should be described in the approved animal use protocol covering the housing and use of those animals.
The primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by providing sensory and motor stimulation, through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors. It is believed that this promotes psychological well-being through physical exercise, manipulative activities, and cognitive challenges according to species-specific characteristics and likely results in improved models for use in scientific research and teaching. Enrichment is considered a standard component of animal care, and will be provided by each facility unless exempted for scientific or veterinary reasons. The enrichment program is reviewed by the IACUC, researchers, DAR and AACUP veterinary staff, and farm managers on a regular basis to ensure it is beneficial to animal well-being and consistent with the goals of animal use.
Investigators who believe that enrichment materials may confound their research objectives must provide scientific justification for excluding them from the housing environment. This justification must be included in the IACUC protocol, which is reviewed by the veterinary staff and the IACUC.