Special Issue "Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare"

A special issue of Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens (ISSN 2673-5636).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Katherine A. Cronin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Animal Welfare Science Program, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60640, USA
Interests: animal welfare; animal behavior; animal cognition; quality of life; animal well-being; zoo, sanctuary; primate

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The science of zoo and aquarium animal welfare is fascinating and challenging. Fascinating because those of us working in the field must draw upon knowledge from several disciplines to creatively measure this hard-to-measure concept, and challenging for the same reason. The challenge is then exacerbated by our need to not only evaluate, but often enhance, the welfare of individual animals of hundreds of different species. This Special Issue is dedicated to recent advances in the science of zoo and aquarium animal welfare, broadly speaking. Scientific advances may be in the form of methodological growth, for example, in the validation of new animal welfare indicators or animal welfare assessment strategies, the application of technological approaches to monitoring or enhancing animal welfare, new methods to study animal affect, or the development or novel application of statistical approaches. Scientific advances could also be in the form of content knowledge that can be applied to enhance the welfare of animals in zoos and aquariums. For example, empirical work that advances our understanding of how animal welfare is impacted by human-animal relationships, the presence or behavior of visitors, ambassador programming, transportation, breeding restriction, enrichment or enclosure design is also welcome. Contributions that report on advances that can be readily and simply applied in zoos and aquariums to advance welfare are especially welcome.

Dr. Katherine A. Cronin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • animal well-being
  • zoo
  • aquarium
  • welfare assessment
  • welfare indicators
  • animal affect
  • human-animal relationships
  • animal-visitor interactions
  • ambassador animals
  • visitor effects
  • enclosure design

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Working to Supply the Demand: Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo Animal Welfare
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(3), 349-350; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030024 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 654
Abstract
If animal welfare scientists were economists, we would be saying that the demand for knowledge is increasing faster than the supply [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

Article
DNA Damage as a Potential Non-Invasive Indicator of Welfare: A Preliminary Study in Zoo-Housed Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos horribilis)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(3), 316-334; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2030022 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1228
Abstract
Measures of oxidative stress have potential for integrating positive and negative life experiences into comprehensive cellular indicators of animal welfare. We explored this possibility when three adult grizzly bear brothers at the Detroit Zoo were temporarily moved to a smaller habitat while their [...] Read more.
Measures of oxidative stress have potential for integrating positive and negative life experiences into comprehensive cellular indicators of animal welfare. We explored this possibility when three adult grizzly bear brothers at the Detroit Zoo were temporarily moved to a smaller habitat while their primary home was expanded. We expected that the spatial compression and construction activity might be sources of stress. We observed increased social play and other affiliative behavior in the smaller habitat, and we used daily fecal samples (17 to 24 per bear) to examine whether concentrations of fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) and 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG, a by-product of DNA damage) were correlated with social behavior. Our overall aim was to explore 8-OHdG as a potential indicator of welfare based on the prediction that 8-OHdG would be lower when more positive social interactions occurred. Concentrations of fecal 8-OHdG increased significantly with higher FGM concentrations, supporting a potential relationship between adrenal activity and rates of DNA damage. However, we found that on days when they engaged in higher rates of affiliative interactions, there were trends for 8-OHdG concentrations to increase for one bear and decrease for another, and no relationship for the third bear. These preliminary results should be interpreted with caution, but suggest a potential relationship between social behavior and 8-OHdG that is modulated by health, personality, or other individual factors. Further validation research is needed, but 8-OHdG may have promise as a non-invasive, cumulative indicator of animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Gaps in Live Inter-Observer Reliability Testing of Animal Behavior: A Retrospective Analysis and Path Forward
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 207-221; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020014 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 898
Abstract
Observational behavior research is an important activity for zoos and aquariums, often being conducted to provide insights into welfare and guide management decisions. This research relies on standardized protocols to ensure consistent data collection. Inter-observer reliability, where untrained observers are tested against the [...] Read more.
Observational behavior research is an important activity for zoos and aquariums, often being conducted to provide insights into welfare and guide management decisions. This research relies on standardized protocols to ensure consistent data collection. Inter-observer reliability, where untrained observers are tested against the behavior identifications of an expert observer, represent a critical internal validation process. Recent software advances have made reliability testing easier and more accessible, but there is limited guidance on what constitutes a strong reliability test. In this study, we reviewed historic reliability test data from Lincoln Park Zoo’s on-going behavior monitoring program. Six representative species were chosen that included 645 live pairwise reliability tests conducted across 163 total project observers. We identified that observers were being tested on only approximately 25% of the behaviors listed and defined in the species ethograms. Observers did encounter a greater percent of the ethogram with successive reliability tests, but this gap remained large. While inactive behaviors were well-represented during reliability tests, social and other non-maintenance solitary behaviors (e.g., exploratory, scent marking, play, etc.) did not frequently occur during tests. While the ultimate implications of these gaps in testing are unclear, these results highlight the risks of live reliability testing as an inherently non-standardized process. We suggest several approaches to help address these limitations, including refining ethograms, reconsidering criteria, and supplementing live training with video. We hope this self-critique encourages others to critically examine their methods, enhance the quality of their behavioral data, and ultimately, strengthen conclusions drawn about animal behavior and welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Influences of Rearing Environment on Behaviour and Welfare of Captive Chilean Flamingos: A Case Study on Foster-Reared and Parent-Reared Birds
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 174-206; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020013 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1937
Abstract
Behaviour signals the internal states that relate to an individual’s welfare and its development is influenced by the early social environment that an animal experiences. Husbandry practices can alter this early social environment, for example different rearing conditions (e.g., foster rearing by a [...] Read more.
Behaviour signals the internal states that relate to an individual’s welfare and its development is influenced by the early social environment that an animal experiences. Husbandry practices can alter this early social environment, for example different rearing conditions (e.g., foster rearing by a surrogate parent of another species). Widespread implementation of altered rearing can lack empirical support and non-parent-reared animals may experience poorer welfare resulting from maternal deprivation. An opportunity presented itself to measure the effect of foster-rearing on Chilean flamingo behaviour and social preferences at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre and compare findings to parent-reared conspecifics in the same time period. Data were collected from April to July 2019 at three timepoints during each observation day. Binomial generalized linear mixed models were used to assess the relationship between focal chicks’ rearing background with behaviour, zone usage, and flock position whilst accounting for climatic factors and visitor numbers. The development of social preferences was assessed using social network analysis. Our results showed limited impacts on flamingo behavioural development due to foster rearing. Foster-reared chicks spent less time feeding, were more likely to occupy the nesting area of the enclosure, and had fewer significant preferred associations than parent-reared chicks, but preferred social bonds were as equally strong and durable for both foster-reared and parent-reared chicks. Our results have important welfare implications for the use of foster-rearing in captive environments; altered early social rearing environments through cross-fostering in Chilean flamingos is associated with limited differences in behavioural and social development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Effects of Enclosure and Environmental Enrichment on the Behaviour of Ring-Tailed Lemurs (Lemur catta)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 164-173; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020012 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2331
Abstract
Environmental enrichment is widely used to improve the quality of life of animals under human care. To successfully implement enrichment programs, it is important to evaluate their effect in different enclosure types since housing conditions may change depending on external factors, such as [...] Read more.
Environmental enrichment is widely used to improve the quality of life of animals under human care. To successfully implement enrichment programs, it is important to evaluate their effect in different enclosure types since housing conditions may change depending on external factors, such as husbandry, management, or seasonal variation. This study investigates how ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) behaviour changes with the availability of enrichment items and the type of enclosure the animals are housed in. Through observations, we compared the behaviour of the lemurs in an indoor and outdoor enclosure, both without and with enrichment items. Although we observed enrichment effects, we found that enclosure type had a bigger effect on the lemurs’ behaviour. Additionally, behavioural changes induced by enrichment items differed between indoor and outdoor enclosures. These results indicate that the effectiveness of enrichment items may depend on the enclosure in which they are provided and consequently suggest that the impact of these programs should not be generalised over enclosure types. This highlights that the evaluation of environmental enrichment programs remains important when optimising zoo animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Localize Animal Sound Events Reliably (LASER): A New Software for Sound Localization in Zoos
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 146-163; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020011 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 870
Abstract
Locating a vocalizing animal can be useful in many fields of bioacoustics and behavioral research, and is often done in the wild, covering large areas. In zoos, however, the application of this method becomes particularly difficult, because, on the one hand, the animals [...] Read more.
Locating a vocalizing animal can be useful in many fields of bioacoustics and behavioral research, and is often done in the wild, covering large areas. In zoos, however, the application of this method becomes particularly difficult, because, on the one hand, the animals are in a relatively small area and, on the other hand, reverberant environments and background noise complicate the analysis. Nevertheless, by localizing and analyzing animal sounds, valuable information on physiological state, sex, subspecies, reproductive state, social status, and animal welfare can be gathered. Therefore, we developed a sound localization software that is able to estimate the position of a vocalizing animal precisely, making it possible to assign the vocalization to the corresponding individual, even under difficult conditions. In this study, the accuracy and reliability of the software is tested under various conditions. Different vocalizations were played back through a loudspeaker and recorded with several microphones to verify the accuracy. In addition, tests were carried out under real conditions using the example of the giant otter enclosure at Dortmund Zoo, Germany. The results show that the software can estimate the correct position of a sound source with a high accuracy (median of the deviation 0.234 m). Consequently, this software could make an important contribution to basic research via position determination and the associated differentiation of individuals, and could be relevant in a long-term application for monitoring animal welfare in zoos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(2), 130-145; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2020010 - 30 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2432
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Evaluating the Effect of Visitor Presence on Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) Behavior
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 115-129; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010009 - 19 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1238
Abstract
Visitor presence has been shown to affect the behavior of animals in zoos. However, studies to date have not included a wide range of taxonomic groupings, and thus, the effect is poorly understood for many species. Here, we compared the behavior of Nile [...] Read more.
Visitor presence has been shown to affect the behavior of animals in zoos. However, studies to date have not included a wide range of taxonomic groupings, and thus, the effect is poorly understood for many species. Here, we compared the behavior of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in the presence and absence of visitors for the first time. Data were collected at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® over two months during normal operating conditions and during the same two months the following year when the park was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling 158 observation hours. Significant differences in crocodile behavior were observed between park operating conditions; however, the direction of change varied by behavior and average differences were generally small. In addition, we found that time of day, temperature and month significantly affected behavior, often with greater magnitude than visitor presence. This highlights the importance of accounting for environmental variables when evaluating and interpreting the behavior, and ultimately welfare, of reptiles in zoos. Collectively, the data suggest the overall effect of visitors on crocodile behavior was small and neutral from a welfare perspective. This study highlights the importance of taxonomic diversity in studying the visitor effect. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Insights into Activity of Zoo Housed Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) during Periods of Limited Staff and Visitor Presence, a Focus on Resting Behaviour
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 101-114; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010008 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1690
Abstract
Historically, behaviour of zoo housed species during hours of limited staff and visitor presence has been poorly studied, largely due to the lack of appropriate technology. Advances in digital monitoring equipment and facility design by European elephant holders has given researchers scope to [...] Read more.
Historically, behaviour of zoo housed species during hours of limited staff and visitor presence has been poorly studied, largely due to the lack of appropriate technology. Advances in digital monitoring equipment and facility design by European elephant holders has given researchers scope to accurately evaluate behaviour for this species over 24 hrs. Various behavioural indicators of welfare have now been identified for zoo housed elephants; however the relationship between resting behaviour and welfare experience has been an area highlighted to require additional research. Lying rest is a potential positive welfare indicator for this species, with studies suggesting that engagement in lying rest can be used to monitor both psychological and physiological wellbeing. Throughout this work we aim to give insights into the behaviour of individual Asian elephants at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, specifically between the hours of 16:00 and 10:00. In addition to presenting the activity budgets of our study individuals during these times, we explore individual engagement in resting behaviour. Furthermore, we evaluate the social associations of our study group during rest. We provide evidence that unrelated individuals can form strong associations with conspecifics when resting and show that life history is a factor to consider when evaluating social compatibility between group members. Finally, we demonstrate the positive role that calves and juvenile individuals can play in facilitating meaningful associations between group members during rest. Our study highlights the importance of evaluating behaviour during understudied time periods in order to obtain a holistic view of individual welfare, further emphasising the importance of adopting an evidence-based approach to management for this species in zoos. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Effects of Nearby Construction Work on the Behavior of Asiatic Lions (Panthera leo persica)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 66-74; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010005 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1345
Abstract
In order to be successful and have high standards of animal welfare, modern zoos strive to regularly modify, improve, and build animal enclosures and visitor areas. However, these periods of development could result in temporary durations of sub-optimal welfare for animals housed nearby. [...] Read more.
In order to be successful and have high standards of animal welfare, modern zoos strive to regularly modify, improve, and build animal enclosures and visitor areas. However, these periods of development could result in temporary durations of sub-optimal welfare for animals housed nearby. In this study, we monitored the behavior of three Asiatic lions (Panthera leo persica) prior to, during, and following a period of construction on a nearby building. Our results provide evidence that welfare may have been temporarily reduced during the construction period. Compared to the pre-construction period, the male exhibited an increase in pacing behavior and all three lions reduced the time they spent resting. We infer that the most significant negative stimulus related to the construction was sound and/or ground vibrations, as a physical barrier ruled out stress from visual stimuli. The behavioral response to the construction work was relatively short-lived and no long-term changes were observed one year on. This research highlights the importance of measuring animal behavior around events outside routine husbandry, and considering animal welfare on an individual basis. Finally, this work adds to the body of literature surrounding the impacts of construction on animal wellbeing and outlines some suggestions for potential mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
The Effect of Enrichment Filling and Engagement Time on Regurgitation and Reingestion Behaviour in Three Zoo-Housed Orangutans
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 10-20; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010002 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1052
Abstract
Regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) is a prevalent, abnormal behaviour observed in captive great apes. R/R may be related to animal welfare and while less R/R appears to occur when apes are provided with browse and continuous foraging opportunities, the aetiology of the behaviour [...] Read more.
Regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) is a prevalent, abnormal behaviour observed in captive great apes. R/R may be related to animal welfare and while less R/R appears to occur when apes are provided with browse and continuous foraging opportunities, the aetiology of the behaviour (e.g., foraging time or taste characteristics such as sweetness) is not well understood. This study aimed to determine how environmental enrichment may affect R/R in three zoo-housed, adult orangutans. Over eight weeks, nine fillable enrichment items were provided twice to each orangutan–once with a sweet filling and once with a savoury filling. Enrichment engagement time and R/R behaviour were monitored for 1-h after the item was provided. Individual differences were found in R/R occurrence. One individual was more likely to perform R/R when given enrichment with a sweet filling (p < 0.05), and a second was more likely to R/R with savoury filled enrichment (p < 0.05). R/R behaviour from the third orangutan was unaffected by enrichment filling (p > 0.05), however he engaged longer with savoury filled enrichment, compared to sweet (p < 0.05). No relationship was found between engagement time and amount of R/R behaviour, for any of the orangutans (p > 0.05). While these results should not be generalized without a larger study, they do suggest that diet and enrichment qualities may play a role in the performance of R/R, and individual variation should not be overlooked when considering causation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Posture as a Non-Invasive Indicator of Arousal in American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 1-9; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010001 - 07 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
Animal welfare has become a priority for modern zoos and aquariums. However, amphibians have not yet been the focus of much welfare research, perhaps in part because they do not tend to display many quantifiable active behaviors. This study focused on nine zoo-housed [...] Read more.
Animal welfare has become a priority for modern zoos and aquariums. However, amphibians have not yet been the focus of much welfare research, perhaps in part because they do not tend to display many quantifiable active behaviors. This study focused on nine zoo-housed American toads (Anaxyrus americanus), a species that displays long periods of sedentary behavior, to explore whether more subtle cues could serve as welfare indicators. A novel American toad posture index was developed that characterized toad posture based on the angle of their forelimbs, visibility of ventral regions, and body weight distribution. As an indicator of arousal, approximate breathing rates were assessed based on the rate of expansion of the toads’ throats. Subsequent analyses revealed that lower body postures were associated with slower rates of throat expansion and raised postures with faster rates of throat expansion, suggesting that posture may be a promising way to quickly and non-invasively assess toad arousal. This work lays important groundwork for assessing welfare of an understudied species, and we are optimistic that, with additional validation, these approaches can be applied in future amphibian welfare research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Article
Seasonal and Daily Activity of Two Zoo-Housed Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos horribilis)
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2020, 1(1), 1-12; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg1010001 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1836
Abstract
Captive grizzly bears, like their wild counterparts, engage in considerable variability in their seasonal and daily activity. We documented the year-long activity of two grizzly bears located at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. We found that behaviors emerged in relation to [...] Read more.
Captive grizzly bears, like their wild counterparts, engage in considerable variability in their seasonal and daily activity. We documented the year-long activity of two grizzly bears located at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. We found that behaviors emerged in relation to month-to-month, seasonal, and time of day (hour-to-hour) observations, and events that occurred on exhibit, such as daily feedings. Seventeen behaviors split into seven classes of behavior were observed during their on-exhibit time over a 13-month period. Inactivity was the most frequent class of responses recorded, with most inactive behaviors occurring during the winter months. Both stereotypic and non-stereotypic activity emerged during the spring and summer months, with stereotypic activity occurring most frequently in the morning and transitioning to non-stereotypic activity in the latter part of the day. Results are discussed with respect to how captive grizzly bear behaviors relate to their natural seasonal and daily activity, as well as how events, such as feeding times and enrichment deliveries, can be used to optimize overall captive bear welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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Other

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Perspective
Assessing Animal Welfare with Behavior: Onward with Caution
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 75-87; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010006 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1288
Abstract
An emphasis on ensuring animal welfare is growing in zoo and aquarium associations around the globe. This has led to a focus on measures of welfare outcomes for individual animals. Observations and interpretations of behavior are the most widely used outcome-based measures of [...] Read more.
An emphasis on ensuring animal welfare is growing in zoo and aquarium associations around the globe. This has led to a focus on measures of welfare outcomes for individual animals. Observations and interpretations of behavior are the most widely used outcome-based measures of animal welfare. They commonly serve as a diagnostic tool from which practitioners make animal welfare decisions and suggest treatments, yet errors in data collection and interpretation can lead to the potential for misdiagnosis. We describe the perils of incorrect welfare diagnoses and common mistakes in applying behavior-based tools. The missteps that can be made in behavioral assessment include mismatches between definitions of animal welfare and collected data, lack of alternative explanations, faulty logic, behavior interpreted out of context, murky assumptions, lack of behavior definitions, and poor justification for assigning a welfare value to a specific behavior. Misdiagnosing the welfare state of an animal has negative consequences. These include continued poor welfare states, inappropriate use of resources, lack of understanding of welfare mechanisms and the perpetuation of the previously mentioned faulty logic throughout the wider scientific community. We provide recommendations for assessing behavior-based welfare tools, and guidance for those developing tools and interpreting data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
Perspective
Leveraging Social Learning to Enhance Captive Animal Care and Welfare
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 21-40; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010003 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1148
Abstract
From ants to zebras, animals are influenced by the behavior of others. At the simplest level, social support can reduce neophobia, increasing animals’ exploration of novel spaces, foods, and other environmental stimuli. Animals can also learn new skills more quickly and more readily [...] Read more.
From ants to zebras, animals are influenced by the behavior of others. At the simplest level, social support can reduce neophobia, increasing animals’ exploration of novel spaces, foods, and other environmental stimuli. Animals can also learn new skills more quickly and more readily after observing others perform them. How then can we apply animals’ proclivity to socially learn to enhance their care and welfare in captive settings? Here, I review the ways in which animals (selectively) use social information, and propose tactics for leveraging that to refine the behavioral management of captive animals: to enhance socialization techniques, enrichment strategies, and training outcomes. It is also important to consider, however, that social learning does not always promote the uniform expression of new behaviors. There are differences in animals’ likelihood to seek out or use socially provided information, driven by characteristics such as species, rank, age, and personality. Additionally, social learning can result in inexact transmission or the transmission of undesirable behaviors. Thus, understanding when, how, and why animals use social information is key to developing effective strategies to improve how we care for animals across settings and, ultimately, enhance captive animal welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in the Science of Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare)
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