Potential Impact of Construction Noise on Selected Zoo Animals
New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine, Auckland Zoo, Auckland 1022, New Zealand
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
School of Environmental and Animal Sciences, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 May 2019
Revised: 8 July 2019
Accepted: 22 July 2019
Published: 31 July 2019
Animals in zoos can adapt to many noises they hear on a regular basis. However, construction noise that is intense or occurs unpredictably may negatively impact the welfare state of some animals and induce a chronic stress response. This study aimed to understand the behavioral response to construction noise of selected species in an urban zoo in order to guide mitigating actions in advance of, and during, a planned construction project. The behavior of elephants, giraffes, emus and alligators was recorded during 90-min exposures to different sound environments including ambient sound, and four construction sound treatments. A non-invasive measure of physiological stress response was also measured in emus. All species appeared to respond to the recorded noise, with giraffes, elephants and emu, demonstrating behavioral changes potentially indicative of agitation or stress. This study has implications for the trade-offs that occur when zoos seek to improve long-term animal welfare through enclosure refurbishment and short-term impacts on animals exposed to construction noise.