What Is the Future for Zoos and Aquariums?

Animal welfare concerns have plagued the professional zoo and aquarium field for decades. Societal differences remain concerning the well-being of animals, but it appears a shift is emerging. Scientific studies of animal welfare have dramatically increased, establishing that many previous concerns were not misguided public empathy or anthropomorphism. As a result, both zoo and aquarium […]

Rating Methodology, Personality Axes, and Behavioral Plasticity: A Case Study in African Lions

Animal personality refers to individual differences in behavior that are consistent across time and across contexts. As it plays an ecological and evolutionary role for many animals by affecting fitness, it is likely to play a role in how both species and individuals fare in captivity. Assessment of animal personality by caretaker ratings has been […]

Play in Rats: Association across Contexts and Types, and Analysis of Structure

Play has been proposed as a promising indicator of positive animal welfare. We aimed to study play in rats across contexts (conspecific/heterospecific) and types (social: pinning, being pinned; solitary: scampering), and we investigated its structure using behavioral sequence analysis. Group-housed (three per cage) adolescent male Lister Hooded rats (n = 21) were subjected to a […]

Putting the “E” in SPIDER: Evolving Trends in the Evaluation of Environmental Enrichment Efficacy in Zoological Settings

In their seminal paper on environmental enrichment, Mellen and MacPhee (2001) proposed a set of broad goals for enrichment in zoological settings, as well as a framework for enrichment programs. Since that time, the philosophy and practice of environmental enrichment in zoos has continued to grow. Here we review evaluations of enrichment efficacy in the […]

Impact of Different Forms of Environmental Enrichment on Foraging and Activity Levels in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

The maintenance of species-specific behaviors for animals in zoological institutions is of top priority, as this can help ensure high levels of animal welfare. Strict feeding schedules within institutions can often impact natural foraging behaviors of animals, as they are no longer required to seek out or manipulate food items. In the wild, western lowland […]

Multifaceted Approach to Personality Assessment in Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)

– The purpose of this study was to assess the personality of 17 South African cheetahs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A multifaceted approach of observer ratings (rating method), behavioral data (coding method) and hormone monitoring was used to examine individual differences. Knowledge of these individual differences, i.e., personality, is essential to better […]

The Effect of Positive Reinforcement Training on an Adult Female Western Lowland Gorilla’s (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Rate of Abnormal and Aggressive Behavior

Positive reinforcement training (PRT) has become a widely used tool in improving the ease with which husbandry and veterinary procedures are performed for animals under human care. PRT provides positive social interaction, cognitive stimulation, and choice, in addition to desensitization towards potentially stressful situations. As a result, PRT has been used as enrichment to decrease […]

Cognitive enrichment and welfare: Current approaches and future directions

“Cognitive enrichment” is a subset of enrichment that has gained interest from researchers over the past decade, particularly those working in zoos. This review explores the forms of cognitive enrichment that have been attempted for laboratory, farmed and zoo animals with a focus on the latter, including various definitions, aims, and approaches. This review reveals […]

Simple but temporally unpredictable puzzles are cognitive enrichment

Provision of problem solving opportunities as enrichment for animals considered highly intelligent has increased over the last twenty years, but this emphasis on animals considered intelligent may overlook the need for cognitive challenge in species not typified as problem solving animals. Commonly used foraging challenges, such as puzzle feeders, may occupy more of an animal’s […]

Monitoring the Behavioral and Adrenal Activity of Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) to Assess Welfare During Seasonal Housing Changes

In inclement weather, northern zoos are required to provide animals from warmer climates with indoor exhibits. These indoor exhibits are typically smaller, lack natural substrate, and have lower levels of stimulation for the animals. The purpose of this study was to examine the welfare of four reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) exhibited at the Chicago […]