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J. Zool. Bot. Gard., Volume 2, Issue 1 (March 2021) – 9 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Penguins are considered to be some of the most popular zoo animals. Swimming is considered a desirable activity for both the visitor experience and penguin welfare; however, little is known about the amount of time penguins spend swimming in zoos. We examined the effects of introducing live fish on 22 zoo-housed Humboldt penguins. Our main interests were how live feeds changed (1) daily and hourly swimming activity, and (2) variability in enclosure use. We hypothesized that the live feedings would increase both swimming activity and overall enclosure use. Our findings show that penguins exhibited an increase in overall swimming, as well as in the hour prior to and during the live feed, with a small decrease in swimming after a live feed. In addition, penguins spent more time using their exhibit during live feeds. These results demonstrate that live fish can be a useful way to enrich the [...] Read more.
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Article
Evaluating the Effect of Visitor Presence on Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) Behavior
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 115-129; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010009 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1044
Abstract
Visitor presence has been shown to affect the behavior of animals in zoos. However, studies to date have not included a wide range of taxonomic groupings, and thus, the effect is poorly understood for many species. Here, we compared the behavior of Nile [...] Read more.
Visitor presence has been shown to affect the behavior of animals in zoos. However, studies to date have not included a wide range of taxonomic groupings, and thus, the effect is poorly understood for many species. Here, we compared the behavior of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in the presence and absence of visitors for the first time. Data were collected at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® over two months during normal operating conditions and during the same two months the following year when the park was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling 158 observation hours. Significant differences in crocodile behavior were observed between park operating conditions; however, the direction of change varied by behavior and average differences were generally small. In addition, we found that time of day, temperature and month significantly affected behavior, often with greater magnitude than visitor presence. This highlights the importance of accounting for environmental variables when evaluating and interpreting the behavior, and ultimately welfare, of reptiles in zoos. Collectively, the data suggest the overall effect of visitors on crocodile behavior was small and neutral from a welfare perspective. This study highlights the importance of taxonomic diversity in studying the visitor effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Insights into Activity of Zoo Housed Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) during Periods of Limited Staff and Visitor Presence, a Focus on Resting Behaviour
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 101-114; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010008 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1509
Abstract
Historically, behaviour of zoo housed species during hours of limited staff and visitor presence has been poorly studied, largely due to the lack of appropriate technology. Advances in digital monitoring equipment and facility design by European elephant holders has given researchers scope to [...] Read more.
Historically, behaviour of zoo housed species during hours of limited staff and visitor presence has been poorly studied, largely due to the lack of appropriate technology. Advances in digital monitoring equipment and facility design by European elephant holders has given researchers scope to accurately evaluate behaviour for this species over 24 hrs. Various behavioural indicators of welfare have now been identified for zoo housed elephants; however the relationship between resting behaviour and welfare experience has been an area highlighted to require additional research. Lying rest is a potential positive welfare indicator for this species, with studies suggesting that engagement in lying rest can be used to monitor both psychological and physiological wellbeing. Throughout this work we aim to give insights into the behaviour of individual Asian elephants at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, specifically between the hours of 16:00 and 10:00. In addition to presenting the activity budgets of our study individuals during these times, we explore individual engagement in resting behaviour. Furthermore, we evaluate the social associations of our study group during rest. We provide evidence that unrelated individuals can form strong associations with conspecifics when resting and show that life history is a factor to consider when evaluating social compatibility between group members. Finally, we demonstrate the positive role that calves and juvenile individuals can play in facilitating meaningful associations between group members during rest. Our study highlights the importance of evaluating behaviour during understudied time periods in order to obtain a holistic view of individual welfare, further emphasising the importance of adopting an evidence-based approach to management for this species in zoos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
The Effects of Live Feeding on Swimming Activity and Exhibit Use in Zoo Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 88-100; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010007 - 10 Mar 2021
Viewed by 2014
Abstract
Penguins are considered among the most popular animals for zoo and aquarium visitors to observe. Swimming is considered a desirable activity, both for the visitor experience and the welfare of the penguins. However, little is known about the amount of time exhibited penguins [...] Read more.
Penguins are considered among the most popular animals for zoo and aquarium visitors to observe. Swimming is considered a desirable activity, both for the visitor experience and the welfare of the penguins. However, little is known about the amount of time exhibited penguins spend swimming, or how such swimming is related to regular feeding events. We examined the effects of introducing live prey in the form of trout on 22 Humboldt penguins living at the Woodland Park Zoo. Of primary interest was how the live feeds changed (1) daily and hourly swimming activity, and (2) variability in enclosure use. We hypothesized that the live feedings would increase swimming activity prior to and during the delivery of the live trout, as well as create an overall increase in total swimming activity for live feed days compared to non-live feed days. We also predicted that the penguins would be more likely to use the entire exhibit around these live feeds, since they are likely to chase fish throughout the exhibit. Penguins did show an increase in swimming activity in the hour prior to and during the live feed, with a small decrease in swimming activity following the live feed when compared to non-live feed days. There was also a more than 30% increase in the total swimming activity for live feed days when compared to all other non-live feed days. In addition, a single measure of variability in enclosure use (entropy) showed greater overall enclosure use for the live feed days compared to the non-live feed days. These results demonstrate that live fish can be a useful way of enriching the behavioural welfare of Humboldt penguins. Full article
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Perspective
Assessing Animal Welfare with Behavior: Onward with Caution
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 75-87; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010006 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 996
Abstract
An emphasis on ensuring animal welfare is growing in zoo and aquarium associations around the globe. This has led to a focus on measures of welfare outcomes for individual animals. Observations and interpretations of behavior are the most widely used outcome-based measures of [...] Read more.
An emphasis on ensuring animal welfare is growing in zoo and aquarium associations around the globe. This has led to a focus on measures of welfare outcomes for individual animals. Observations and interpretations of behavior are the most widely used outcome-based measures of animal welfare. They commonly serve as a diagnostic tool from which practitioners make animal welfare decisions and suggest treatments, yet errors in data collection and interpretation can lead to the potential for misdiagnosis. We describe the perils of incorrect welfare diagnoses and common mistakes in applying behavior-based tools. The missteps that can be made in behavioral assessment include mismatches between definitions of animal welfare and collected data, lack of alternative explanations, faulty logic, behavior interpreted out of context, murky assumptions, lack of behavior definitions, and poor justification for assigning a welfare value to a specific behavior. Misdiagnosing the welfare state of an animal has negative consequences. These include continued poor welfare states, inappropriate use of resources, lack of understanding of welfare mechanisms and the perpetuation of the previously mentioned faulty logic throughout the wider scientific community. We provide recommendations for assessing behavior-based welfare tools, and guidance for those developing tools and interpreting data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
Article
Effects of Nearby Construction Work on the Behavior of Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 66-74; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010005 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
In order to be successful and have high standards of animal welfare, modern zoos strive to regularly modify, improve, and build animal enclosures and visitor areas. However, these periods of development could result in temporary durations of sub-optimal welfare for animals housed nearby. [...] Read more.
In order to be successful and have high standards of animal welfare, modern zoos strive to regularly modify, improve, and build animal enclosures and visitor areas. However, these periods of development could result in temporary durations of sub-optimal welfare for animals housed nearby. In this study, we monitored the behavior of three Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) prior to, during, and following a period of construction on a nearby building. Our results provide evidence that welfare may have been temporarily reduced during the construction period. Compared to the pre-construction period, the male exhibited an increase in pacing behavior and all three lions reduced the time they spent resting. We infer that the most significant negative stimulus related to the construction was sound and/or ground vibrations, as a physical barrier ruled out stress from visual stimuli. The behavioral response to the construction work was relatively short-lived and no long-term changes were observed one year on. This research highlights the importance of measuring animal behavior around events outside routine husbandry, and considering animal welfare on an individual basis. Finally, this work adds to the body of literature surrounding the impacts of construction on animal wellbeing and outlines some suggestions for potential mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Review
Conservation Education: Are Zoo Animals Effective Ambassadors and Is There Any Cost to Their Welfare?
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 41-65; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010004 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1435
Abstract
Animal ambassador encounters (AAE), where visitors come into close-contact with animals, are popular in zoos and are advocated as promoting connection to wild species. However, educational and animal-welfare implications are relatively unknown. We conducted a systematic literature review (PRISMA) to investigate visitor and [...] Read more.
Animal ambassador encounters (AAE), where visitors come into close-contact with animals, are popular in zoos and are advocated as promoting connection to wild species. However, educational and animal-welfare implications are relatively unknown. We conducted a systematic literature review (PRISMA) to investigate visitor and animal outcomes of AAE. We identified 19 peer reviewed articles and 13 other records focused on AAEs. Although we found net positive or neutral impacts overall, several studies indicated that high-intensity visitor contact and long-term exposure may be detrimental to animal welfare. Most studies lacked rigour and claims were based on an absence of negative impacts rather than evidence of benefits. Multiple publications were derived from the same datasets and there were no standardised measures for either welfare or education impacts. Of the peer-reviewed articles, just two considered both education and welfare. Education studies often used perceived learning or only post-experience testing. Welfare studies used small samples (median n = 4; range 1–59), and limited measures of welfare. In order to justify the continued use of AAEs in modern zoos, animal welfare costs must be proven to be minimal whilst having demonstrable and substantial visitor educational value. Large-scale, standardised impact assessments of both education and welfare impacts are needed. Full article
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Perspective
Leveraging Social Learning to Enhance Captive Animal Care and Welfare
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 21-40; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010003 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1018
Abstract
From ants to zebras, animals are influenced by the behavior of others. At the simplest level, social support can reduce neophobia, increasing animals’ exploration of novel spaces, foods, and other environmental stimuli. Animals can also learn new skills more quickly and more readily [...] Read more.
From ants to zebras, animals are influenced by the behavior of others. At the simplest level, social support can reduce neophobia, increasing animals’ exploration of novel spaces, foods, and other environmental stimuli. Animals can also learn new skills more quickly and more readily after observing others perform them. How then can we apply animals’ proclivity to socially learn to enhance their care and welfare in captive settings? Here, I review the ways in which animals (selectively) use social information, and propose tactics for leveraging that to refine the behavioral management of captive animals: to enhance socialization techniques, enrichment strategies, and training outcomes. It is also important to consider, however, that social learning does not always promote the uniform expression of new behaviors. There are differences in animals’ likelihood to seek out or use socially provided information, driven by characteristics such as species, rank, age, and personality. Additionally, social learning can result in inexact transmission or the transmission of undesirable behaviors. Thus, understanding when, how, and why animals use social information is key to developing effective strategies to improve how we care for animals across settings and, ultimately, enhance captive animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
Article
The Effect of Enrichment Filling and Engagement Time on Regurgitation and Reingestion Behaviour in Three Zoo-Housed Orangutans
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 10-20; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010002 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 910
Abstract
Regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) is a prevalent, abnormal behaviour observed in captive great apes. R/R may be related to animal welfare and while less R/R appears to occur when apes are provided with browse and continuous foraging opportunities, the aetiology of the behaviour [...] Read more.
Regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) is a prevalent, abnormal behaviour observed in captive great apes. R/R may be related to animal welfare and while less R/R appears to occur when apes are provided with browse and continuous foraging opportunities, the aetiology of the behaviour (e.g., foraging time or taste characteristics such as sweetness) is not well understood. This study aimed to determine how environmental enrichment may affect R/R in three zoo-housed, adult orangutans. Over eight weeks, nine fillable enrichment items were provided twice to each orangutan–once with a sweet filling and once with a savoury filling. Enrichment engagement time and R/R behaviour were monitored for 1-h after the item was provided. Individual differences were found in R/R occurrence. One individual was more likely to perform R/R when given enrichment with a sweet filling (p < 0.05), and a second was more likely to R/R with savoury filled enrichment (p < 0.05). R/R behaviour from the third orangutan was unaffected by enrichment filling (p > 0.05), however he engaged longer with savoury filled enrichment, compared to sweet (p < 0.05). No relationship was found between engagement time and amount of R/R behaviour, for any of the orangutans (p > 0.05). While these results should not be generalized without a larger study, they do suggest that diet and enrichment qualities may play a role in the performance of R/R, and individual variation should not be overlooked when considering causation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Posture as a Non-Invasive Indicator of Arousal in American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 1-9; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jzbg2010001 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 704
Abstract
Animal welfare has become a priority for modern zoos and aquariums. However, amphibians have not yet been the focus of much welfare research, perhaps in part because they do not tend to display many quantifiable active behaviors. This study focused on nine zoo-housed [...] Read more.
Animal welfare has become a priority for modern zoos and aquariums. However, amphibians have not yet been the focus of much welfare research, perhaps in part because they do not tend to display many quantifiable active behaviors. This study focused on nine zoo-housed American toads (Anaxyrus americanus), a species that displays long periods of sedentary behavior, to explore whether more subtle cues could serve as welfare indicators. A novel American toad posture index was developed that characterized toad posture based on the angle of their forelimbs, visibility of ventral regions, and body weight distribution. As an indicator of arousal, approximate breathing rates were assessed based on the rate of expansion of the toads’ throats. Subsequent analyses revealed that lower body postures were associated with slower rates of throat expansion and raised postures with faster rates of throat expansion, suggesting that posture may be a promising way to quickly and non-invasively assess toad arousal. This work lays important groundwork for assessing welfare of an understudied species, and we are optimistic that, with additional validation, these approaches can be applied in future amphibian welfare research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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