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Article

Zookeepers’ Perception of Zoo Canid Welfare and its Effect on Job Satisfaction, Worldwide

1
Vethos–Veterinary Clinical Ethology, 00182 Rome, Italy
2
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
3
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, 20133 Milan, Italy
4
A.I.G.ZOO–Italian Association of Zookepers, 51100 Pistoia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 916; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050916
Received: 24 April 2020 / Revised: 19 May 2020 / Accepted: 21 May 2020 / Published: 25 May 2020
An important part of zookeepers’ work consists of monitoring and assessing zoo animal welfare. In this study, we investigated zookeepers’ perception of the importance and fulfilment of zoo canids’ fundamental freedoms, and how it correlates with their job satisfaction. Our findings suggest that zookeepers perceive zoo canids’ freedoms to be important, but not as much guaranteed, especially those related to psychological aspects of welfare. However, zookeepers’ female gender is associated with a more positive perception of both the importance and fulfilment of these freedoms. Overall, zookeepers who reported a more positive perception of the fulfilment of zoo canids’ freedoms, as well as a stronger keeper–animal bond, appeared to be more satisfied with their job, in general. Our findings suggest that zoos should put more efforts in ensuring their canids the protection of fundamental freedoms, especially those related to psychological aspects of welfare. Furthermore, enhancing zoo canid welfare, as well as promoting management procedures that allow the development of proper keeper–canid interactions, may increase job satisfaction among zookeepers.
Recently, zookeepers’ role in monitoring and assessing zoo animal welfare is gaining importance. One hundred-sixteen zoo canid keepers responded to an online questionnaire aimed at assessing, on a 1 to 5 scoring scale, their perception of the importance and fulfilment of the Brambell’s Freedoms for zoo canids, the bond with canids under their care, and their level of job satisfaction. Results showed that zookeepers perceive the Brambell’s Freedoms as highly important (median = 5, min–max = 3–5), but not equally guaranteed (median = 3, min–max = 1–5, p < 0.01). Although there was no difference in their perception of the importance of each freedom, those related to psychological issues (median = 3, min–max = 1–5) were perceived as significantly less guaranteed than those addressing physical needs (median = 4.5, min–max = 1–5, Mann–Whitney U test, p < 0.01). Female zookeepers tended to perceive all freedoms as more important (Ordinal Logistic Regression model, p = 0.009), as well as more guaranteed (Ordinal Logistic Regression model, p = 0.007), than male zookeepers. Regardless of gender, a more positive perception of the Brambell’s Freedoms for zoo canids was associated with higher job satisfaction (Mann–Whitney U test, p < 0.01, ρ = 0.241). The latter was also positively correlated with zookeepers’ perception of the strength of the bond with the canids under their care (Spearman Rho’s correlation, p = 0.01, ρ = 0.230). Our results highlight the need for zoos to focus on guaranteeing psychological welfare of their canids. Enhancing animal welfare may increase zookeepers’ job satisfaction. View Full-Text
Keywords: zookeepers; animal welfare; canids; gender; five freedoms; bond; job satisfaction zookeepers; animal welfare; canids; gender; five freedoms; bond; job satisfaction
MDPI and ACS Style

Riggio, G.; Pirrone, F.; Lunghini, E.; Gazzano, A.; Mariti, C. Zookeepers’ Perception of Zoo Canid Welfare and its Effect on Job Satisfaction, Worldwide. Animals 2020, 10, 916. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050916

AMA Style

Riggio G, Pirrone F, Lunghini E, Gazzano A, Mariti C. Zookeepers’ Perception of Zoo Canid Welfare and its Effect on Job Satisfaction, Worldwide. Animals. 2020; 10(5):916. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050916

Chicago/Turabian Style

Riggio, Giacomo, Federica Pirrone, Elia Lunghini, Angelo Gazzano, and Chiara Mariti. 2020. "Zookeepers’ Perception of Zoo Canid Welfare and its Effect on Job Satisfaction, Worldwide" Animals 10, no. 5: 916. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050916

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