Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Primate Behavior

Committee Chair

Dr. Jessica A. Mayhew

Second Committee Member

Dr. Kara Gabriel

Third Committee Member

Belinda Ann Hall


In zoos, caregivers have considered enrichment as vital for their animal collections’ physical health and development. Since primate species are endangered and continue to decline in numbers in their natural habitat, zoos are steadily becoming the only places we can view and learn about them. In today’s zoos, cognitive enrichment—which falls into overlapping categories of enrichment and does not yet have a universally accepted definition—is either absent or inconsistently offered. Providing challenges to stimulate cognitive well-being has been found to influence the overall welfare of captive primates. Cognitive enrichment is considered very important according to zookeeper surveys but is not provided often for captive animal populations. This study aimed to gather information about who is perceived as the responsible party in providing cognitive to primates enrichment in North American, AZA-accredited zoos. I found that direct-contact staff were perceived as responsible for most tasks regarding cognitive enrichment implementation. I also identified some trends that suggest perceptions about cognitive enrichment might differ based on job classification and amount of professional experience. The results of this study identified that there are differences in perception between roles, and I suspect that this is an issue which needs resolved, as a resolution could result in improved enrichment supply and therefore animal welfare.