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J. Zool. Bot. Gard., Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2021) – 11 articles

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Article
Using Keeper Questionnaires to Capture Zoo-Housed Tiger (Panthera tigris) Personality: Considerations for Animal Management
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 650-663; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040047 - 30 Nov 2021
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Abstract
Individual personalities affect animal experiences of zoo environments, impact on an animal’s coping ability and have potential implications for welfare. Keeper assessments have been identified as a quick and reliable way of capturing data on personality in a range of species and have [...] Read more.
Individual personalities affect animal experiences of zoo environments, impact on an animal’s coping ability and have potential implications for welfare. Keeper assessments have been identified as a quick and reliable way of capturing data on personality in a range of species and have practical application in improving animal welfare on an individual level. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of animal personality within a zoo environment, there is a paucity of research into tiger personality and the potential impact of this on tiger experiences within zoos. This research investigated the personality of 34 tigers (19 Amur and 15 Sumatran) across 14 facilities in the UK using keeper ratings and identified changes keepers made in animal husbandry to support tiger welfare. Reliability across keepers (n = 49) was established for nine adjectives and a principal component analysis identified three personality components: ‘anxious’, ‘quiet’ and ‘sociable’. When subspecies were combined, there was no relationship between tiger scores on the personality components and age or sex of tigers (p > 0.05). Subspecies of tiger was not related to scores on the ‘quiet’ or ‘sociable’ components (p > 0.05). Sumatran tigers scored more highly than Amur tigers on the ‘anxious’ component (mean ± SD, Sumatran: 3.0 ± 1.7, Amur: 1.8 ± 0.6, p < 0.05). Analysis within subspecies found that male Amur tigers were more sociable than females (mean ± SD, males: 5.5 ± 0.707; females: 4.15 ± 0.55). Amur tiger age was also negatively correlated with scores on the sociable personality component (R = −0.742, p < 0.05). No significant differences were seen in Sumatran tigers. Keepers reported a number of changes to husbandry routines based on their perceptions of their tigers’ personality/needs. However, there was no significant relationship between these changes and tiger personality scores (p > 0.05). Despite significant evolutionary differences between Amur and Sumatran tigers, there are no subspecies specific guidelines for zoo tigers. This research has highlighted the potential for these two subspecies to display personality differences and we advocate further research into this area. Specifically, we highlight a need to validate the relationship between tiger personality, management protocols and behavioural and physiological metrics of welfare. This will enable a fuller understanding of the impact of personality on zoo tiger experiences and will enable identification of evidence-based best practice guidelines. Full article
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Article
The Modern Zoo: Demographics and Perceptions of Two International Groups of Zoo Staff
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 636-649; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040046 - 22 Nov 2021
Viewed by 275
Abstract
Characterising the people that work in zoos is a key element of understanding how zoos might better contribute to conservation activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate demographics, early life experiences and perceptions of zoo staff to the role of the [...] Read more.
Characterising the people that work in zoos is a key element of understanding how zoos might better contribute to conservation activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate demographics, early life experiences and perceptions of zoo staff to the role of the modern zoo. This paper reports the key characteristics and qualitative themes emerging from study of international (European and Chinese) zoo professionals. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with eight Chinese and eight European zoo staff about aspects of zoological animal welfare, conservation and zoological practices. These qualitative data were thematically analysed, and themes generated. This paper describes interviewee demographics and two themes relating to ‘early life influences’ and ‘the role of the modern zoo’. This analysis indicates that demographic data and early life influences of zoo professionals were broadly similar between two culturally diverse regions, but that their views on the role of the modern zoo differed, particularly in terms of their perceptions of conservation activities, with European interviewees focussing on biodiversity conservation, and Chinese interviewees focussing on animal protection. Full article
Article
It’s Virtually Summer, Can the Zoo Come to You? Zoo Summer School Engagement in an Online Setting
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 625-635; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040045 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 312
Abstract
Zoological collections are rapidly changing from a place of entertainment to centers of education. Many zoological collections run holiday and weekend clubs with activities aimed at inspiring and enthusing the next generation. The COVID-19 pandemic saw zoological collections across the world closing, leading [...] Read more.
Zoological collections are rapidly changing from a place of entertainment to centers of education. Many zoological collections run holiday and weekend clubs with activities aimed at inspiring and enthusing the next generation. The COVID-19 pandemic saw zoological collections across the world closing, leading a need for alternative educational content. Edinburgh Zoo, UK converted their summer school to a virtual provision. This provided a unique opportunity to determine the effectiveness of online zoological education by investigating if engagement levels differ for family groups when education is ‘live’, ‘recorded’ or ‘activity’ based. A total of 235 participants signed up for the Virtual Summer School, which comprised of 46 separate activities. Submissions, comments and polls were coded for content level and activity type. Results show that the overall engagement was higher for the live sessions compared to the recorded content; however, the content level was higher for activities. Content level increased over the week and there was a higher reported nature appreciation at the end of the Virtual Summer School. These findings provided evidence to suggest that online holiday zoo education can engage and inspire and gives insight on how to maximize the engagement and knowledge acquisition when using these online platforms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoos as a Tool for Re-Connecting People with Nature)
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Article
Goal-Setting among Biology Undergraduates during a Free-Choice Learning Experience at a Regional Zoo
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 610-624; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040044 - 18 Nov 2021
Viewed by 237
Abstract
Free-choice learning occurs when individuals have autonomy in what and how they learn, and often takes place in informal settings such as zoos. To describe goal-setting and -achievement of biology undergraduates at a regional zoo, we primarily asked: (1) What types of learning [...] Read more.
Free-choice learning occurs when individuals have autonomy in what and how they learn, and often takes place in informal settings such as zoos. To describe goal-setting and -achievement of biology undergraduates at a regional zoo, we primarily asked: (1) What types of learning goals do students set for themselves for a trip to the zoo?; and (2) What activities do students intend to engage in on a zoo trip? Participating students completed the first portion of a goal-setting assessment prior to entering the zoo, which asked students to develop learning and activity goals for themselves. At the conclusion of the zoo trip, students completed the second portion of this survey, which asked whether students achieved their goals, and if not, why. We found that most students devised learning goals related to gaining knowledge and identified passive interactions with animals as activities they hoped to engage in during their trip. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoos as a Tool for Re-Connecting People with Nature)
Article
Investigating the Effect of Enrichment on the Behavior of Zoo-Housed Southern Ground Hornbills
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 600-609; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040043 - 13 Nov 2021
Viewed by 606
Abstract
Enrichment is essential for the welfare of many zoo-housed animals, yet the value of enrichment is not well understood for all taxa. As an intelligent, long-lived species, the southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a good model for enrichment research. A [...] Read more.
Enrichment is essential for the welfare of many zoo-housed animals, yet the value of enrichment is not well understood for all taxa. As an intelligent, long-lived species, the southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) is a good model for enrichment research. A pair of southern ground hornbills, housed at Beale Wildlife Park and Gardens, were observed during study periods in 2014, 2018, and 2019. Three types of enrichment were provided for the birds; these enrichment types were developed based on information on the habits of the species as found in natural history papers. The enrichment types consisted of a pile of twigs, small animal carcasses, and plastic mirrors. Overall, the carcass feeds and the mirrors resulted in the greatest changes in behavior, with hornbills engaging in long periods of food manipulation with carcasses. For the mirror condition, hornbills spent time stalking around and pecking at mirrors, similar to the ‘window smashing’ behavior seen in wild hornbills. Overall, the research suggests that not only can enrichment modify the behavior of southern ground hornbills, but non-nutritional enrichment may be equally valuable to the animals. Natural history papers may have some value in inspiring novel enrichment items for zoo-housed animals. Full article
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Perspective
How Can India Leverage Its Botanic Gardens for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Wild Food Plant Resources through the Implementation of a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation?
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 586-599; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040042 - 13 Nov 2021
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Abstract
Wild food plants (WFPs) are consumed by the indigenous communities in various parts of the world for food, nutrition, and medicinal purposes. They are usually collected from the wild and sometimes grown in the vicinity of the forests and the dwellings of the [...] Read more.
Wild food plants (WFPs) are consumed by the indigenous communities in various parts of the world for food, nutrition, and medicinal purposes. They are usually collected from the wild and sometimes grown in the vicinity of the forests and the dwellings of the indigenous people in a way such that they are not far from their natural habitats. WFPs are important for the food and nutritional requirements of the indigenous communities. The WFPs are seasonal and collected from the wild whenever they are available. Therefore, the food menu of the tribal co mmunities changes with the seasons. A number of studies have demonstrated various WFPs consumed by indigenous communities including India. The results show that an enormous diversity of WFPs is consumed by the indigenous people of India. However, a few studies also suggest that the consumption of WFPs among the indigenous communities is declining along with the dwindling of traditional ethnobotanical knowledge linked to the collection, processing, cooking, storage, and limited cultivation of WFPs. India can leverage the network of its botanic gardens for the conservation of its wild food plant resources, the traditional and indigenous knowledge linked to it, and its popularization among the citizens within the framework of Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). This article provided an overview of the need to focus on WFPs, limitations of current studies, and role of botanic gardens in the conservation of wild food plants through the implementation of GSPC. This article further provided a framework for the role of botanic gardens in the popularization of WFPs, increasing the awareness about their importance, documentation, and preservation of the traditional knowledge linked to various aspects of WFPs within the GPSC framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Botanic Gardens, a Powerful Alliance for Conservation)
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Article
Investigating Visitor Activity on a Safari Drive
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 576-585; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040041 - 10 Nov 2021
Viewed by 655
Abstract
Despite increasing studies focusing on the visitor experience in zoological collections, minimal attention has been paid to visitor activity when driving through safari parks. The dwell time of visitors at exhibits within a traditional zoo setting has offered a good method to measure [...] Read more.
Despite increasing studies focusing on the visitor experience in zoological collections, minimal attention has been paid to visitor activity when driving through safari parks. The dwell time of visitors at exhibits within a traditional zoo setting has offered a good method to measure exhibit and species popularity, but studying visitors on a safari drive offers a unique set of challenges, with factors such as road length skewing a basic dwell time measurement. Therefore, the current study proposes that average speed offers a robust means to investigate visitor activity on a safari drive. Average speed was found to be significantly different depending on species exhibited, with primates and felids eliciting slower speeds and bovids and cervids faster speeds. This result broadly mirrors that of traditional zoo studies where primates elicit longer dwell times. Future safari drive studies could help inform decisions made on a safari drive for aspects such a collection planning, drive layout and exhibit design. Harnessing tracking technology, e.g., GPS, alongside more diverse methodologies, such as questionnaires and multi-institutional approaches, would further allow more robust conclusions to be drawn. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoos as a Tool for Re-Connecting People with Nature)
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Article
Of Whales and Genes: Unraveling the Physiological Response to Stressors in Belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) at the Molecular Level
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 559-575; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040040 - 29 Oct 2021
Viewed by 347
Abstract
Marine mammals, now more than ever, are exposed to environmental and anthropogenic stressors. A better understanding of stress physiology in marine mammals is warranted in order to assist in conservation efforts. This study screened gene expression profiles (cytokines, stress-response markers) in blood samples [...] Read more.
Marine mammals, now more than ever, are exposed to environmental and anthropogenic stressors. A better understanding of stress physiology in marine mammals is warranted in order to assist in conservation efforts. This study screened gene expression profiles (cytokines, stress-response markers) in blood samples collected opportunistically under controlled conditions from aquarium belugas during transport and introduction to a novel environment (T/NEnv), participation in out-of-water examinations (OWE) and from wild belugas during live capture–release health assessments (WLCR). Quantitative-PCR was used to measure gene expression involved in physiological and immune responses at different time scales. Linear mixed models with repeated measures and pairwise comparisons were used for analysis. Overall, a generalized down-regulation of relative gene expression when compared to samples collected under behavioral control from aquarium whales or to pre-assessment samples of wild whales was observed, with genes IFNγ, IL2, TGFβ and Nr3c1 displaying the largest significant (p < 0.05) changes. Significant (p < 0.05) negative associations of inflammatory gene expression with norepinephrine suggest inhibitory effects of catecholamines on the inflammatory response. Overall, this study contributes to our understanding of the physiological response to stressors at the molecular level in belugas, and the genes suggested here can further be utilized as additional tools in beluga health assessments and monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cetaceans: Conservation, Health, and Welfare)
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Communication
Preliminary Evaluation of Potential Impacts Associated with Small Cetacean Remote Biopsy Sampling by Controlled Testing on Stranded Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 544-558; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040039 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 529
Abstract
To explore the potential macroscopic tissue effects of select remote biopsy tools to common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), carcasses were darted and their traumatic effects on the anatomy in target and non-target areas of the body were described. In total, 87 [...] Read more.
To explore the potential macroscopic tissue effects of select remote biopsy tools to common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), carcasses were darted and their traumatic effects on the anatomy in target and non-target areas of the body were described. In total, 87 samples were collected (target area, n = 19; non-target area, n = 68) within standardized grid partitions from five carcasses of sub-adult to adult age classes with a range of body condition scores. We broadly classified impacts penetrating completely through the blubber into muscle or deeper internal tissues as over-penetrations (n = 51/87, 59%). For samples collected in the defined target area, there was a low number of over-penetrations (n = 5/51; 10%). However, for samples collected in the defined, non-target areas, a much higher number of over-penetrations occurred (n = 45/51 88%). A visual examination of some samples indicated that sample length and appearance may not be reliable guides to assess the penetration depth of the wounds. These preliminary results suggest samples collected in non-targeted areas could pose much higher risk to the individual. We encourage other researchers considering the use of remote biopsy tools to conduct similar assessments prior to field sampling to better understand the potential consequences of misplaced samples with a view towards continually improving remote biopsy tools and techniques for the benefit of cetacean welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cetaceans: Conservation, Health, and Welfare)
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Review
Animal Training, Environmental Enrichment, and Animal Welfare: A History of Behavior Analysis in Zoos
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 531-543; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040038 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1212
Abstract
The modern zoo has been associated with two major behavioral welfare advances: (a) the use of training to increase voluntary husbandry care, and (b) the implementation of environmental enrichment to promote naturalistic behaviors. Both practices have their roots in behavior analysis, or the [...] Read more.
The modern zoo has been associated with two major behavioral welfare advances: (a) the use of training to increase voluntary husbandry care, and (b) the implementation of environmental enrichment to promote naturalistic behaviors. Both practices have their roots in behavior analysis, or the operant conditioning-centered, reward-based approach to behavioral psychology. Operant conditioning served as the foundation for the development of reinforcement-based training methods commonly used in zoos to make veterinary and husbandry procedures easier and safer for animals and their caregivers. Likewise, operant conditioning, with its focus on arranging environmental antecedents and consequences to change behavior, also provided a framework for successful environmental enrichment practices. In this paper, we outline the key individuals and events that shaped two of the cornerstones of the modern zoo: (1) the emergence of reward-based husbandry training practices, and (2) the engineering of environmental enrichment. In addition, we (3) suggest ways in which behavior analysis can continue to advance zoo welfare by (i) expanding the efficacy of environmental enrichment, (ii) using within-subject methodology, and (iii) improving animal-visitor interactions. Our goal is to provide a historical and contextual reference for future efforts to improve the well-being of zoo animals. Full article
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Article
A Census of Federally Regulated Big Cat Populations within the United States as of December 2020
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(4), 517-530; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2040037 - 08 Oct 2021
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Abstract
No comprehensive assessment of the populations of big cats in federally regulated facilities in the United States is currently available. Concerns about big cat use are increasingly of strong public interest and the lack of data about their number and distribution has ramifications [...] Read more.
No comprehensive assessment of the populations of big cats in federally regulated facilities in the United States is currently available. Concerns about big cat use are increasingly of strong public interest and the lack of data about their number and distribution has ramifications impacting zoological industry function, conservation programs, rescue work, and legislation. In this work a dataset has been compiled using publicly available USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) records and direct information requests. The resulting census was derived from the animal inventories listed on inspection records for all 2272 facilities with animal exhibition licenses. The total number of big cats in federally regulated facilities is on the order of 4100 animals and appears to be declining. Full article
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