Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Zoo Animals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021) | Viewed by 54739

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Guest Editor
Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, 23 Chemin des Capelles, Toulouse, France
Interests: ethology; cognition; phenomenology; animal welfare; human-animal relations; marine mammals
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Animal welfare is an evolving field and keeps gaining increased recognition, importance and attention from scientists, politicians and general public. In order to properly assess animal welfare, we must consider pluridisciplinary approaches, new paradigms, novel and combined methods and innovative technologies. We also must think about ways to build bridges between in- situ and ex- situ studies to lead out on better management practices and conservation efforts.

In this Special Issue, we invite original manuscripts, reviews and theoretical papers on all aspects of animal welfare assessments. The scope is very wide. Contributions include but are not limited to the following topics:  animal-based measures, positive and negative welfare indicators, enrichment, anthropogenic impacts, human-animal interactions, wildlife conservation. Papers discussing possible links between in- and ex- situ animal welfare studies are encouraged.

Dr. Fabienne Delfour
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • welfare assessment
  • zoo animals
  • wildlife
  • animal-based measures
  • resources-based measures
  • positive and negative welfare indicators
  • physiology
  • mental states
  • emotions
  • behavior
  • cognition
  • environmental enrichment

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

21 pages, 3778 KiB  
Article
Saliva and Blood Cortisol Measurement in Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): Methodology, Application, and Limitations
by Daniela Rickert, Ralph Simon, Lorenzo von Fersen, Katrin Baumgartner, Thomas Bertsch, Clemens Kirschbaum and Michael Erhard
Animals 2022, 12(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12010022 - 23 Dec 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4296
Abstract
A central task of zoos and aquaria is the frequent and accurate assessment of their animals’ welfare. Recently, important steps have been made, such as the introduction of animal welfare evaluation tools and welfare decision trees. To determine animal welfare, it is not [...] Read more.
A central task of zoos and aquaria is the frequent and accurate assessment of their animals’ welfare. Recently, important steps have been made, such as the introduction of animal welfare evaluation tools and welfare decision trees. To determine animal welfare, it is not only important to collect life history data, such as longevity and reproductive success, but also for experienced observers or caretakers to conduct behavioral observations on a regular basis to assess animals’ emotional state. To physiologically validate welfare observations, glucocorticoid levels are usually assessed, as they are a common indicator of stress. While, for many animals, these levels can be easily determined via fecal or hair samples, for cetaceans, the levels are usually determined via blood samples. As blood samples cannot be taken very frequently and the process may cause stress to the animals (if the samples are not taken following medical training), other techniques, such as the measurement of health biomarkers (especially cortisol, which can be measured in saliva), have become the focus of cetacean stress research. However, there are two problems associated with saliva measurements in cetaceans: saliva might either be diluted with pool water or be contaminated by fodder fish, as frozen fish usually contains high levels of cortisol. In our study, we investigated how saliva cortisol levels are connected to blood cortisol levels and how saliva cortisol can be influenced by fodder fish. We examined saliva and blood samples in eleven bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) kept in an outdoor and indoor facility in Germany. Furthermore, we assessed the cortisol levels of different kinds of fodder fish. Our data show that, although saliva cortisol values are elevated under stress and arousal, they seem not to be correlated with blood cortisol values. We also show that, after feeding, saliva cortisol values are increased up to 100-fold. Our results suggest that saliva cortisol measurements in dolphins have to be conducted and considered with care, as they can easily be contaminated. Moreover, it is important to use the right laboratory method in order to specifically detect cortisol; in our study, we conducted reliable tests, using LC-MS/MS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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21 pages, 5283 KiB  
Article
Developing a Reliable Welfare Assessment Tool for Captive Hibernatory Bear Species
by Chloe J. Maher, Angela Gibson, Laura M. Dixon and Heather Bacon
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3090; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113090 - 29 Oct 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3936
Abstract
Animal welfare assessments are essential for the identification of welfare hazards and benchmarking of welfare improvements, though welfare assessments for zoo species are lacking. Bears are commonly housed in zoos but currently no composite welfare assessment tool exists for captive bears. This study [...] Read more.
Animal welfare assessments are essential for the identification of welfare hazards and benchmarking of welfare improvements, though welfare assessments for zoo species are lacking. Bears are commonly housed in zoos but currently no composite welfare assessment tool exists for captive bears. This study describes the development of such a tool for use across hibernating bear species. A draft tool was developed using indicators derived from the literature and a modified Delphi analysis with an international group of bear keepers. A total of 18 bear keepers from 12 zoos were recruited to trial the tool on 24 brown bears and American black bears. The participating keepers assessed their bears three times across a period of nine days. Intraclass correlation coefficients analysis was used to analyse inter-, intra-rater and item reliability. The inter- and intra-rater reliability showed good to excellent levels of agreement (>0.7, p < 0.05). Item reliability was also assessed and showed good to excellent levels of agreement (>0.75, p < 0.05). The resulting bear welfare assessment is an important step in identifying and understanding challenges to bear welfare in captivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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14 pages, 1757 KiB  
Article
The Validation of a Non-Invasive Skin Sampling Device for Detecting Cetacean Poxvirus
by Simone Segura-Göthlin, Antonio Fernández, Manuel Arbelo, Idaira Felipe-Jiménez, Ana Colom-Rivero, Javier Almunia and Eva Sierra
Animals 2021, 11(10), 2814; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102814 - 27 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2448
Abstract
Poxvirus-like lesions are widely used as a potential health indicator in cetaceans, although for this application, corroboration of Poxvirus skin disease is imperative. Aiming to address skin biopsies intrusiveness, a preliminary investigation of a non-invasive skin sampling procedure to molecularly detect CePV-1 in [...] Read more.
Poxvirus-like lesions are widely used as a potential health indicator in cetaceans, although for this application, corroboration of Poxvirus skin disease is imperative. Aiming to address skin biopsies intrusiveness, a preliminary investigation of a non-invasive skin sampling procedure to molecularly detect CePV-1 in 12 tattoo-like-lesions from two free-ranging stranded cetaceans in the Canary Islands was performed. Skin lesions were brushed with cytology cell samplers (CCSs) and placed into 1.5 mL microcentrifuge tubes with 1 mL of RNAlaterTM Stabilization Solution. For factual comparisons, DNA extractions from sloughed skin obtained with CCS and biopsies from the same lesions were accomplished with DNA Tissue Kit STM (QuickGene, Kurabo, Japan). Moreover, a second DNA extraction from sloughed skin with DNeasyTM Blood and Tissue Kit (Qiagen, Inc., Valencia, CA, USA) was performed to ascertain kit suitability for CCS. Molecular detection of CePV-1 was performed through a real-time PCR. As a result, a 91.7% and 83.3% rates of positivity were obtained with biopsies and CCS through Quickgene, respectively, compared to the rate of 100% using CCS with Qiagen. Accordingly, CCS is a reliable non-invasive sampling device to obtain sufficient genetic material to be analyzed for CePV-1 in tattoo-skin-lesions as well as for other purposes in cetaceans under human care. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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16 pages, 2573 KiB  
Article
Dolphin Watching and Compliance to Guidelines Affect Spinner Dolphins’ (Stenella longirostris) Behaviour in Reunion Island
by Belén Quintana Martín-Montalvo, Ludovic Hoarau, Ophélie Deffes, Sylvain Delaspre, Fabienne Delfour and Anne-Emmanuelle Landes
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2674; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092674 - 12 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3374
Abstract
Marine wildlife tourism has rapidly developed in Reunion Island, due to a large demand for interactions with a resident population of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). The presence of dolphin-watching vessels close to dolphin groups can cause short-term impacts on their behaviour; [...] Read more.
Marine wildlife tourism has rapidly developed in Reunion Island, due to a large demand for interactions with a resident population of spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). The presence of dolphin-watching vessels close to dolphin groups can cause short-term impacts on their behaviour; cumulative incidences likely result in deleterious long-term impacts on the population. Using scan sampling, we collected behavioural data on spinner dolphins to evaluate the short-term effects of dolphin watching on their behaviour. The dolphins were less likely to begin socialising or diving while travelling and more likely to stay travelling and milling in the presence of vessels. Additionally, activity budgets for resting and socialising decreased simultaneously with increased travelling and milling. Avoidance responses significantly increased with an increase in the number of vessels and non-compliance with the local dolphin-watching guidelines. These behavioural responses are likely to have energetic costs for the dolphins, which may lead to decreased survival and reproductive success at individual and population levels. More restrictive regulations, increased surveillance and animal-based measures are key tools to adapt the conservation efforts in Reunion Island. Further studies on the island’s resident dolphin populations are necessary to ensure the continuity of dolphin-watching activities in a sustainable manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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20 pages, 8465 KiB  
Article
Activity Budget Comparisons Using Long-Term Observations of a Group of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) under Human Care: Implications for Animal Welfare
by Tim Huettner, Sandra Dollhaeupl, Ralph Simon, Katrin Baumgartner and Lorenzo von Fersen
Animals 2021, 11(7), 2107; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11072107 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 5119
Abstract
Zoos and aquaria must provide optimal husbandry conditions and the highest welfare standards for their animals. How the welfare state of an animal or a group of animals can be precisely assessed is currently under debate, and new approaches are necessary to reliably [...] Read more.
Zoos and aquaria must provide optimal husbandry conditions and the highest welfare standards for their animals. How the welfare state of an animal or a group of animals can be precisely assessed is currently under debate, and new approaches are necessary to reliably evaluate changes in welfare. One particular measure that is easily applicable is behavioral observations. However, for dolphins and other cetaceans under human care, reliable behavior-based measures are rare. Using long-term observations of a group of bottlenose dolphins, we investigate how their activity budgets and different behaviors changed over time and are impacted by construction noise. Additionally, we investigate whether behavioral differences are also reflected in changes in the dolphins’ performance during daily training sessions. Our results show that construction noise significantly alters the dolphins’ behavior. Play behavior decreases during construction periods; most importantly, the frequency of fast swimming activities significantly increased, and at the same time, a decrease in training performance is found. Additionally, inter- and intraindividual behavioral differences are attributed to factors, such as age or weaning. Significant changes in a dolphin’s activity budget can also pose potential welfare concerns. Thus, this study highlights the importance of regularly assessing and analyzing the behavior of dolphins under human care. Behavioral observations are essential welfare indicators and can—when complemented with other measures, such as assessment of training performance—provide zoo staff with important information about each individual’s state of welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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11 pages, 911 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Fecal Glucocorticoid Metabolite Levels in Response to a Change in Social and Handling Conditions in African Lions (Panthera leo bleyenberghi)
by Paula Serres-Corral, Hugo Fernández-Bellon, Pilar Padilla-Solé, Annaïs Carbajal and Manel López-Béjar
Animals 2021, 11(7), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11071877 - 24 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2347
Abstract
Monitoring the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis through determination of fecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) levels is a non-invasive method useful for understanding how handling and social conditions may affect the physiological status of zoo animals. The present study used FCM analysis to evaluate whether the [...] Read more.
Monitoring the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis through determination of fecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) levels is a non-invasive method useful for understanding how handling and social conditions may affect the physiological status of zoo animals. The present study used FCM analysis to evaluate whether the HPA axis activity of a lion pride was modified by a change in social and handling conditions after the death of the dominant male. Five African lions (Panthera leo bleyenberghi), two males and three females, were included in the study. Fecal samples were collected before and after the death of the dominant male. To avoid cohabitation conflicts between males before the dominant male died, subgroups were established and subjected to weekly changes between indoor and outdoor facilities. After the death of the dominant male, these management dynamics ceased, and the remaining four lions were kept together outdoors. Significant lower group FCM concentrations (p < 0.001) were detected after the decease of the dominant male, probably associated with a decrease in daily handling, together with a more stable social environment. Overall, the present study indicates the effect of different management scenarios on the HPA axis activity and differentiated physiological responses to the same situation between individuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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28 pages, 6637 KiB  
Article
Behavioural Diversity Study in Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Groups and Its Implications for Welfare Assessments
by Fabienne Delfour, Ruta Vaicekauskaite, Daniel García-Párraga, Cristina Pilenga, Agathe Serres, Isabelle Brasseur, Ana Pascaud, Enrique Perlado-Campos, Guillermo J. Sánchez-Contreras, Katrin Baumgartner and Tania Monreal-Pawlowsky
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1715; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061715 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 5239
Abstract
In the recent past, animal welfare studies have tried to determine the best animal welfare measures and indicators. Expression of behavioural diversity is considered a potential positive welfare indicator, and to the authors’ knowledge, it has not been validated nor studied in cetaceans. [...] Read more.
In the recent past, animal welfare studies have tried to determine the best animal welfare measures and indicators. Expression of behavioural diversity is considered a potential positive welfare indicator, and to the authors’ knowledge, it has not been validated nor studied in cetaceans. For the first time, a behavioural diversity study on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) groups was conducted at six European facilities. The study was carried out by the animal care staff, biologists and veterinarians and included 54 dolphins housed in several group compositions at the different participating facilities. The goal of our study was to analyse behavioural diversity in bottlenose dolphins at the group level to investigate how particular factors might impact the diversity of behaviours within the group and to discuss its implications for dolphin welfare assessments. Eight factors (i.e., “observer location”, “number of individuals”, “age class”, “sex”, “social grouping”, “presence/absence of leading male”, “presence/absence of visitors” and “enrichment provision”) impacted the behavioural diversity of the observed groups, while no significant impact of the factors “time of day” and “activity before/after observation” could be found. Our study showed the feasibility of this kind of approach for cetaceans under professional care and the relevance to considering this parameter in dolphin welfare studies, despite certain limitations that warrant further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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12 pages, 1455 KiB  
Article
Hostile Interactions of Punjab Urial (Ovis vignei punjabiensis) towards Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) during Feeding Sessions in Captive Breeding Settings
by Romaan Hayat Khattak, Liwei Teng, Tahir Mehmood, Ejaz Ur Rehman, Zhirong Zhang and Zhensheng Liu
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051274 - 28 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1796
Abstract
Natural wildlife habitats are regularly subjected to anthropogenic pressures for different purposes, which are heading the biodiversity towards drastic decline. Several endangered wild species are raised in captivity with the aim of re-introduction. In some instances, mixed herds’ rearing approach in captivity is [...] Read more.
Natural wildlife habitats are regularly subjected to anthropogenic pressures for different purposes, which are heading the biodiversity towards drastic decline. Several endangered wild species are raised in captivity with the aim of re-introduction. In some instances, mixed herds’ rearing approach in captivity is adopted for providing social enrichment to captive stocks; however, the impacts of species on each other are least documented. We tested our prediction that keeping mixed herds of captive wild sheep and antelopes provides adequate social enrichment to the captive stocks: if interspecific interactions are balanced. In the current study, we studied the interspecific competition between mixed herds of captive Punjab urial (Ovis vignei punjabiensis) and Indian gazelle (Gazella bennettii) at Manglot Wildlife Park, Nowshera District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. We documented the negative effects of behavioural interference by Punjab urial on the feeding behaviour of Indian gazelle. The outcome of the current study revealed that Punjab urial are highly intolerant towards Indian gazelle, with high interference during feeding. Out of the total aggressive events, 77% (N = 1259) of events ended up with win/loss, in which Punjab urial dominated the Indian gazelle 3.5 times. Moreover, lopsided dominance by Punjab urial resulted in increased intraspecific competition among Indian gazelle (p < 0.001). Current study divulged Indian gazelle to be the subordinate species, with less intake of food. Instead of providing social enrichment by heterospecifics, the Punjab urial is negatively affecting the Indian gazelle, therefore, the results of our study discourage the practice of admix captive breeding for wild sheep and antelopes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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20 pages, 322 KiB  
Article
Freedom and Animal Welfare
by Heather Browning and Walter Veit
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1148; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041148 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 16090
Abstract
The keeping of captive animals in zoos and aquariums has long been controversial. Many take freedom to be a crucial part of animal welfare and, on these grounds, criticise all forms of animal captivity as harmful to animal welfare, regardless of their provisions. [...] Read more.
The keeping of captive animals in zoos and aquariums has long been controversial. Many take freedom to be a crucial part of animal welfare and, on these grounds, criticise all forms of animal captivity as harmful to animal welfare, regardless of their provisions. Here, we analyse what it might mean for freedom to matter to welfare, distinguishing between the role of freedom as an intrinsic good, valued for its own sake and an instrumental good, its value arising from the increased ability to provide other important resources. Too often, this debate is conducted through trading intuitions about what matters for animals. We argue for the need for the collection of comparative welfare data about wild and captive animals in order to settle the issue. Discovering more about the links between freedom and animal welfare will then allow for more empirically informed ethical decisions regarding captive animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
15 pages, 839 KiB  
Article
The Click Production of Captive Yangtze Finless Porpoises (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis asiaorientalis) Is Influenced by Social and Environmental Factors
by Agathe Serres, Chen Xu, Yujiang Hao and Ding Wang
Animals 2021, 11(2), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020511 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2589
Abstract
Yangtze finless porpoises use high-frequency clicks to navigate, forage, and communicate. The way in which click production may vary depending on social or environmental context has never been investigated. A group of five captive Yangtze finless porpoises was monitored for one year, and [...] Read more.
Yangtze finless porpoises use high-frequency clicks to navigate, forage, and communicate. The way in which click production may vary depending on social or environmental context has never been investigated. A group of five captive Yangtze finless porpoises was monitored for one year, and 107 h of audio recordings was collected under different conditions. Using a MATLAB-generated interface, we extracted click density (i.e., number of clicks per minute) from these recordings and analyzed its variation depending on the context. As expected, click density increased as the number of animals present increased. The click density did not exhibit diurnal variations but did have seasonal variations, with click density being highest in summer and fall. Yangtze finless porpoises produced more clicks when socially separated than when not (136% more), during training/feeding sessions than outside of such sessions (312% more), when enrichment was provided (265% more on average), and when noisy events occurred rather than when no unusual event occurred (22% more). The click density decreased when many visitors were present in the facility (up to 35% less). These results show that Yangtze finless porpoises modulate their click production depending on the context and suggest that their echolocation activity and their emotional state may be linked to these changes. Such context-dependent variations also indicate the potential usefulness of monitoring acoustical activity as part of a welfare assessment tool in this species. Additionally, the click density variation found in captivity could be useful for understanding click rate variations of wild populations that are hardly visible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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Review

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19 pages, 333 KiB  
Review
Cetacean Acoustic Welfare in Wild and Managed-Care Settings: Gaps and Opportunities
by Paige E. Stevens, Heather M. Hill and Jason N. Bruck
Animals 2021, 11(11), 3312; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11113312 - 19 Nov 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4175
Abstract
Cetaceans are potentially at risk of poor welfare due to the animals’ natural reliance on sound and the persistent nature of anthropogenic noise, especially in the wild. Industrial, commercial, and recreational human activity has expanded across the seas, resulting in a propagation of [...] Read more.
Cetaceans are potentially at risk of poor welfare due to the animals’ natural reliance on sound and the persistent nature of anthropogenic noise, especially in the wild. Industrial, commercial, and recreational human activity has expanded across the seas, resulting in a propagation of sound with varying frequency characteristics. In many countries, current regulations are based on the potential to induce hearing loss; however, a more nuanced approach is needed when shaping regulations, due to other non-hearing loss effects including activation of the stress response, acoustic masking, frequency shifts, alterations in behavior, and decreased foraging. Cetaceans in managed-care settings share the same acoustic characteristics as their wild counterparts, but face different environmental parameters. There have been steps to integrate work on welfare in the wild and in managed-care contexts, and the domain of acoustics offers the opportunity to inform and connect information from both managed-care settings and the wild. Studies of subjects in managed-care give controls not available to wild studies, yet because of the conservation implications, wild studies on welfare impacts of the acoustic environment on cetaceans have largely been the focus, rather than those in captive settings. A deep integration of wild and managed-care-based acoustic welfare research can complement discovery in both domains, as captive studies can provide greater experimental control, while the more comprehensive domain of wild noise studies can help determine the gaps in managed-care based acoustic welfare science. We advocate for a new paradigm in anthropogenic noise research, recognizing the value that both wild and managed-care research plays in illustrating how noise pollution affects welfare including physiology, behavior, and cognition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Zoo and Wild Animals Welfare Assessments)
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