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 […]

Complexities of Using Wild versus Captive Activity Budget Comparisons for Assessing Captive Primate Welfare

Activity budget comparisons between groups or individuals in the wild and those in captivity are commonly used to determine the range of wild-type behaviors that nonhuman animals in captivity perform. These comparisons are conducted with the view that individuals displaying a greater range of wild-type behaviors have enhanced welfare. Such comparisons have a greater appeal […]

Collection planning for the next 100 years: What will we commit to save in zoos and aquariums?

The “sustainability crisis” in zoos and aquariums has been a sobering reminder of how limited our resources are for maintaining viable populations of species threatened with extinction. This, combined with increasing concern among the public about the value of zoos and aquariums, suggests that the zoological profession should engage in a thorough re-examination of our […]

A review of zoo-based cognitive research using touchscreen interfaces

In the past few decades, there has been an increase in the number of zoo-based touchscreen studies of animal cognition around the world. Such studies have contributed to the field of comparative cognition despite the fact research has only been performed at a relatively small number of institutions and with a narrow range of species. […]

Do Elephants Belong in Zoos?

Zoos and animal welfare advocates differ over elephants in captivity. Critics say zoos lack space to house elephants. Zoos argue that they are expanding and improving exhibits, and that elephants live better in captivity than in the wild with disease, drought, habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with people.

Death at the Zoo: The Media, Science, and Reality

Media characterizations of zoo and aquarium animal deaths were randomly monitored on the internet for a 20-month period (September 2003–May 2005). Based on 148 samples collected, it was possible to classify articles into one of four categories, which were operationally defined: 1) dispassionate observers; 2) accusers; 3) sympathizers; and 4) balancers. In addition, with the […]

Optimal Conditions for Captive Elephants: A Report by the Coalition for Captive Elephant Well-Being

Differences in husbandry and management systems across ten facilities housing Asian elephants Elephas maximas in India

A face-to-face questionnaire survey was conducted to document the husbandry and management systems followed by ten facilities housing Asian elephants Elephas maximas in India. Eighty-two Asian elephants at these ten facilities were surveyed between November 2004 and February 2005. A significantly greater percentage of the elephants managed by zoos (n54 zoos; 13 elephants surveyed) and […]

How should the psychological well-being of zoo elephants be objectively investigated?

Animal welfare (sometimes termed ‘‘well-being’’) is about feelings – states such as ‘‘suffering’’ or ‘‘contentment’’ that we can infer but cannot measure directly. Welfare indices have been developed from two main sources: studies of suffering humans, and of research animals deliberately subjected to challenges known to affect emotional state. We briefly review the resulting indices […]

Some Preliminary Evidence of the Social Facilitation of Mounting Behavior in a Juvenile Bull Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)

This study recorded sexual behavior within a captive herd of 8 Asian elephants for approximately 230 hr on 50 days over a period of 10 months. The study observed a single adult and a single juvenile bull mounting cows more than 160 times. When the juvenile bull was between 4 years, 2 months and 4 […]