Policy Number: 2011-042

Policy Title: Environmental Enrichment


“The primary aim of environmental enrichment is to enhance animal well-being by providing animals with sensory and motor stimulation, through structures and resources that facilitate the expression of species-typical behaviors and promote psychological well-being through physical exercise, manipulative activities, and cognitive challenges according to species-specific characteristics.”1 The type of environmental enrichment offered to an animal depends on the species, life stage of the animal, compatibility with conspecifics, type of housing, space available, and research needs, and to a lesser extent on existing husbandry practices and other operational needs.


In compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, Animal Welfare Regulations, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, appropriate environmental enrichment must be provided in laboratory animal housing unless there is scientific justification, approved by an Animal Care and Use Committee, that precludes the use of enrichment materials or practices. All animal housing facilities must have a program of environmental enrichment for all species maintained in that facility. The Attending Veterinarian and the Animal Care and Use Committee must review and approve this program regularly.


1 . Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources (U.S.) 2011. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Author: J. Welter, RARC veterinary staff
ePublication Date: 9/9/2011
History: amended 9/2011