Check It Twice: Environmental Enrichment Checksheets

According to the 8th addition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals “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”. As such, the UW has developed enrichment enhancement plans for all species currently housed at the UW.

The Environmental Enhancement Checksheets, or EECs, are a new (required) addition to your IACUC protocol, and will be included in your next annual renewal or 3-year renewal. EECs vary by species and describe types of enrichment (e.g., treats, social housing) that are recommended to promote the psychological well-being of your animals. This form allows you to specify what kind of enrichment is most appropriate (or not appropriate) for your study. When exemptions from elements of the enrichment plan are requested, scientific justification is required. When filling out the EEC form, don’t forget to think about all aspects of your experiments, including behavioral assays, special diets and post-operative recovery periods. EEC forms can be found here.

If you are unsure whether or not your experiment(s) require exemptions, contact your Compliance Advisor.