LARC Environmental Enrichment



The Environmental Enrichment Program was originally designed to address the promotion of “psychological well-being of non-human primates,” outlined by the 1985 Amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Since its installation, the program has expanded to envelope all species in

biomedical research. It is our aim to improve the well-being of all laboratory research animals at UCSF and provide people working with animals the knowledge and skills to do so as well. By improving animals’ psychological well-being, we will also likely improve the reliability of research outcomes.


What is it and why do we need it?


Environmental enrichment is defined as “ a process for improving or enhancing animal environments and care within the context of the inhabitants biology and natural history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus enhancing animal welfare” (Shape of Enrichment / Kay Stewart).

The need for animal welfare improvement is a reflection of the ethical concerns in our society. High ethical standards of animal welfare are important as they support humane treatment of animals, including the promotion of psychological well-being. Our enrichment program’s main function is to be certain we meet and often surpass such standards.

For several species, the program is important because it is federally mandated. Environmental enrichment plans for facilities housing nonhuman primates and canines are required by the Animal Welfare Act (USDA). “…research facilities must develop, document, and follow a plan for environmental enhancement adequate to promote psychological well-being of nonhuman primates…” (Section 3.81). At any site inspections, copies of the program can be requested for review.

Our program’s goal to improve animal welfare promotes more reliable research outcomes. Positive human-animal relationships, proper social housing conditions, and boredom avoidance often relieves distress. Our enrichment program targets these specific areas to help provide investigators with an animal model that can be more justifiably applicable to human patients.




We provide various services in our program. Please contact us to find out more about the different types of enrichment we can provide to your specific species as well as the behavioral management services we offer, including positive reinforcement training. Enrichment is already included in the per diem rate that investigators pay for animal care; therefore, our services bare no additional costs to the investigator. So it only makes sense to utilize our services!

Click here to see a list of our rodent enrichments.

  • To order enrichments please submit form to the enrichment office or email it to [email protected] .





Peer-Reviewed Journals



Books and Notebooks


Kleiman, D, M.E. Allen and K. V. Thompson. 1997. Wild Animals in Captivity: Principles and Techniques. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Markowitz, H. and G. Woodworth. 1978. Behavior of Captive Wild Animals. Chicago: Nelson Hall.

Novak, M.A. (ed), and A. Petto. 1991. Through the Looking Glass: Issues of Psychological Well-Being in Captive Non-Human Primates. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association

Segal, E.F.(ed). 1989. Housing, Care and Psychological Well-Being of Captive and Lab Primates. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Publications.

Shepherdson, D. , J.D. Mellen, M. Hutchins. 1998. Second Nature: Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Public Health Service, and Primate Information Center. 1992. Environmental Enrichment Information Resources for Nonhuman Primates: 1987 - 1992. Beltsville, Maryland: National Agricultureal Library, Animal Welfare Information Center.