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Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis

by 1,2,*,†, 1,†, 3,4,† and 1,†
1
School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Brackenhurst Campus, Nottinghamshire NG25 0QF, UK
2
Department of Veterinary Health & Animal Sciences, Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB, UK
3
Twycross Zoo, Atherstone, Warwickshire CV9 3PX, UK
4
Conservation Medicine, College of Science Health, Education and Engineering, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
All authors had an equal contribution.
Academic Editor: Katherine A. Cronin
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 130-145; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020010
Received: 24 February 2021 / Revised: 9 March 2021 / Accepted: 12 March 2021 / Published: 30 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
Prolonged and repetitive COVID-19 facility closures have led to an abrupt cessation of visitors within UK and Irish zoos for variable periods since March 2020. This study sought to increase understanding of the impact of closures and reopenings on animal behaviour, thereby broadening understanding of whether zoo animals habituate to visitors. Data were collected from June to August 2020 at two UK facilities on eight species (n = 1 Chinese goral, n = 2 Grevy’s zebra, n = 11 swamp wallaby, n = 2 Rothschild’s giraffe, n = 2 nyala, n = 4 Chapman’s zebra, n = 2 snow leopard and n = 3 Amur leopard). Behaviour change and enclosure use was variable across species but most changes were non-significant. Grevy’s zebra engaged in more comfort behaviour during closure periods than post-closure (p < 0.05). Chinese goral engaged in more environmental interactions during closure periods (p < 0.05). Grevy’s zebra spent longer than would be expected by chance closest to public viewing areas during closure periods (p < 0.008). These results suggest variable impacts of covid-19 closures and reopenings, mirroring human-animal interaction literature. We highlight the potential for some species to take longer to re-habituate to the presence of zoo visitors. As facility closures/reopenings are ongoing, we advocate a longitudinal monitoring approach. Furthermore, we recommend incorporation of physical and physiological measures of welfare where possible, alongside behavioural responses, to enable a holistic approach to answering fundamental questions on whether zoo animals habituate to visitors. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; zoo; behaviour; multi-species; visitor-animal interactions COVID-19; zoo; behaviour; multi-species; visitor-animal interactions
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MDPI and ACS Style

Williams, E.; Carter, A.; Rendle, J.; Ward, S.J. Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis. J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2, 130-145. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020010

AMA Style

Williams E, Carter A, Rendle J, Ward SJ. Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens. 2021; 2(2):130-145. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020010

Chicago/Turabian Style

Williams, Ellen, Anne Carter, Jessica Rendle, and Samantha J. Ward 2021. "Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis" Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 2, no. 2: 130-145. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020010

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