Social interaction analysis in captive orcas (Orcinus orca)

The management of socially complex species in captivity is challenging. Research on their social behavior improves our understanding of interactions in captive animals and captive-group management. We conducted a detailed analysis of social relationships shown by the orcas kept at Loro Parque zoo and their tendency to reconcile after aggressive episodes. Affiliative interactions were the […]

Achieving optimal welfare for the Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in North American zoos and aquariums

Compared to other megafauna managed in zoos and aquariums, the current state of welfare for the Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is poorly understood. Complex behavior and physiological characteristics make hippos a difficult species to manage. Thus, hippos in managed care are currently at risk for a decreased state of welfare. In an effort to assess […]

Using Farm Animal Welfare Protocols as a Base to Assess the Welfare of Wild Animals in Captivity-Case Study: Dorcas Gazelles (Gazella dorcas)

There is a lack of protocols specifically developed for the assessment of welfare of wild animals in captivity, even when it is known that providing good standards of welfare is important. The aim of this study was the development and the application of a protocol for the assessment of welfare in captive dorcas gazelles. The […]


Zoo environments represent a useful opportunity for animal research, particularly for species that are difficult to observe in the wild. Moreover, studying the behavior of zoo-housed populations provides important information about the welfare state of animals. We described the behaviors of a zoo-housed population of seven Broad-snouted Caimans (Caiman latirostris) composed of males and females […]

The Need for a Convergence of Agricultural/Laboratory and Zoo-based Approaches to Animal Welfare

Advances in animal welfare science have led to a high number of studies published for farm, laboratory and zoo animals, with a huge breadth of innovative topic areas and methodologies. This paper investigates the different approaches used to undertake welfare research in farm, laboratory and zoo animals due to the variety of constraints that each […]

How do Common Otters (Lutra lutra, Linnaeus 1758) Interact? Behavioral Study on a Pair of Otters in Captivity

Common Otter is a fairly well-known species, however few studies have focused on their behavior. This is related with the challenges inherent to the observation of otters in the nature. For that reason, in the present work, a male and a female of this species in a captivity environment were observed. The aim was to […]

Animal Welfare: Could Adult Play be a False Friend?

There is no consensus regarding the functions of play. As play behavior is a characteristic of young stages of development, it has been suggested that the higher prevalence of adult play observed in domestic animals could be the result of their “neotenic retardation.” Functional hypotheses have dealt with the long term benefits, such as “rehearsal,” […]

Does group size matter? Captive chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) behavior as a function of group size and composition

The National Institutes of Health and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommend that captive chimpanzees be housed in multi-male, multi-female, age-diverse groups of no less than seven individuals. These recommendations are rooted in the idea that captive chimpanzee groups should be modeled after free-ranging, wild, fission-fusion chimpanzee societies. However, captive chimpanzees do not face […]

Are “visitor effects” overestimated? Behaviour in captive lemurs is mainly driven by co-variation with time and weather

The concept that visitors affect behaviour of captive animals has interested zookeepers since the 1960s. However, to date no studies on “visitor effects” have allowed for time of day and weather, which can affect behaviour directly and frequently co-vary with visitor numbers. Here, we examine visitor effects on captive ring-tailed lemurs Lemur catta in a […]

Behavioral patterns of laboratory Mongolian gerbils by sex and housing condition: a case study with an emphasis on sleeping patterns

The behavioral patterns of Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) housed individually and in same-sex groups (siblings) were characterized. Gerbils were continuously video-recorded 24 hours (day 1) and 120 hours (day 5) after housing conditions were established (no environmental enrichment was implemented). Video samples totaling 2016 minutes were scored to obtain measures of maintenance (drinking, sleeping, grooming, and eating), locomotor […]