The Elephant Welfare Initiative: a model for advancing evidence‐based zoo animal welfare monitoring, assessment and enhancement

The Elephant Welfare Initiative (EWI) is an effort supported by a community of member zoos with the common goal of advancing evidence‐based elephant‐care practices that enhance welfare. The idea for the EWI came about following the completion of a large‐scale North American elephant welfare study, which demonstrated that daily practices, such as social management, enrichment […]

Effects of assembly and operation of an amusement ride on the behaviour of a pair of captive Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica)

The effects of construction, noise, and visitors on behavioural and physiological responses in zoo animals have become increasingly well documented. However, scientific data are lacking on the impact of amusement rides on the welfare of captive animals. Capital developments in 2014 at Tayto Park, Ireland included expansion of their theme park. This project provided an […]

The Social Rank of Zoo-Housed Japanese Macaques is a Predictor of Visitor-Directed Aggression

The effect that visitors have on the behavior and welfare of animals is a widely-studied topic in zoo animal welfare. Typically, these studies focus on how the presence or activity levels of visitors affect animals. However, for many species, and particularly Primates, social factors, such as social rank, can also have a large impact on […]

The Visitor Effect on Zoo Animals: Implications and Opportunities for Zoo Animal Welfare

Achieving and maintaining high standards of animal welfare is critical to the success of a modern zoo. Research has shown that an animal’s welfare is highly dependent on how various individual animal factors (e.g., species traits, genetics, temperament and previous experience) interact with environmental features (e.g., social grouping, enclosure design and sensory environment). One prominent […]

The behavioral effects of exhibit size versus complexity in African elephants: A potential solution for smaller spaces

Population-level analyses suggest that habitat complexity, but not necessarily space availability, has important welfare outcomes for elephants in human care. At the Dallas Zoo, the opening of a new exhibit complex allowed us to measure the behavior of two female African elephants across three treatments to evaluate the independent effects of complexity and space. Preoccupancy […]

Evaluating changes in salivary oxytocin and cortisol following positive reinforcement training in two adult male western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Positive reinforcement training (PRT) is associated with increases in species-typical behavior and decreases in stereotypic and abnormal behavior in participating animals. Physiological changes following PRT, for example, increases in oxytocin (OXT) and/or decreases in cortisol (CORT), may facilitate these behavioral changes. This study evaluated salivary OXT and salivary CORT concentrations in two adult male western […]

Animal-based welfare monitoring: using keeper ratings as an assessment tool

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20281.abs Zoological institutions are in urgent need of identifying and implementing welfare assessment tools that allow for ongoing, quantitative monitoring of individual animal well-being. Although the American Zoological Association’s (AZA) Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) promotes the use of such tools in internal review processes, current approaches to institutional welfare assessment are resource-based and outline […]

Effects of browse, human visitors and noise on the behaviour of captive orangutans

This paper reports a study of the behaviour of captive orang utans (pongo pygmaeus) at Chester Zoo, UK. The study addressed two questions: what is the effect of the presence of fresh browse on the animals’ behaviour; and what is the effect of the presence of visitors? The first part of the study analysed the […]

Anticipatory behavior in captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus): A preliminary study

This study examined whether a group of captive dolphins displayed anticipatory behaviors before shows. In general, anticipation occurs when an event is being predicted. Anticipatory behavior is defined by Spruijt et al. as “responses elicited by rewarding stimuli that lead to and facilitate consummatory behavior (Spruijt et al., 2001, Appl Anim Behav Sci 72: 145–171).” […]

Behavioral and physiological responses in felids to exhibit construction

Despite the growing body of literature examining the welfare of zoo-housed animals, little standardized work has been published on the effect of construction and environmental disruption on the physiology and behavior of affected animals. When Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago, IL), embarked on a renovation project for its Kovler Lion House, the opportunity was taken to […]