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Article

Mapping Shade Availability and Use in Zoo Environments: A Tool for Evaluating Thermal Comfort

Animal Welfare Science Program, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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Animals 2020, 10(7), 1189; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071189
Received: 24 June 2020 / Revised: 7 July 2020 / Accepted: 7 July 2020 / Published: 14 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Practice in Zoo Animal Management)
The thermal environment experienced by animals in zoos has implications for their comfort, and ultimately welfare. In this study, we describe a simple low-cost approach to documenting one key aspect of the environment, shade, and its use by animals. We share a successive approach that can be adopted based on an organization’s capacity: Ranging from simple mapping of shade availability in enclosures that can be built upon to incorporate more advanced tracking of space use by animals and detailed assessment of shade use. Using these methods, we discovered shade availability at a zoo in a northern continental climate varied greatly across enclosures, as well as by season and time of day. We present a case study on Sichuan takin to highlight the applied potential of this approach. Relying on insights from a combination of shade and behavioral data, a shade structure was installed and then evaluated for this species. As zoos seek to create enclosures that promote positive welfare, careful consideration should be paid to the thermal environment and choices available to animals. We share these accessible methods to encourage others to evaluate shade and its use by zoo animals.
For many species in zoos, particularly megafauna vulnerable to heat stress, shade is a key environmental resource. However, shade availability has received comparatively less attention than other aspects of the zoo environment. In this study, we share a simple low-cost approach that we applied to document shade availability across 33 zoo enclosures. We then combined these assessments with behavioral observations of enclosure use and shade-seeking behavior during summer months in a case study focused on Sichuan takin (Budorcas taxicolor tibetana) (n = 3), a large cold-adapted bovid. Behavioral observations were conducted before and after installation of a shade sail for the takin. Results indicated that shade availability varied widely across zoo enclosures, with the percent of shaded space ranging from 85 % to 22 % across enclosures during summer months. Shade was a dynamic resource and increased throughout the year and fluctuated across the day, with the least shade available midday. Takin showed general preferences for shaded areas near the walls of their enclosure but were observed using newly available shade from the shade sail after its installation. These accessible methods can be easily applied to assess shade within existing enclosures, evaluate enclosure modifications, and provide guidance for the design of new enclosures. View Full-Text
Keywords: zoo; shade; temperature; behavior monitoring; behavioral thermoregulation; ZooMonitor; Sichuan takin zoo; shade; temperature; behavior monitoring; behavioral thermoregulation; ZooMonitor; Sichuan takin
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wark, J.D.; Wierzal, N.K.; Cronin, K.A. Mapping Shade Availability and Use in Zoo Environments: A Tool for Evaluating Thermal Comfort. Animals 2020, 10, 1189. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071189

AMA Style

Wark JD, Wierzal NK, Cronin KA. Mapping Shade Availability and Use in Zoo Environments: A Tool for Evaluating Thermal Comfort. Animals. 2020; 10(7):1189. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071189

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wark, Jason D., Natasha K. Wierzal, and Katherine A. Cronin 2020. "Mapping Shade Availability and Use in Zoo Environments: A Tool for Evaluating Thermal Comfort" Animals 10, no. 7: 1189. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10071189

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