CZAAWE Resource Article

Affiliative and aggressive behavior in a group of female somali wild ass (Equus africanus somalicus)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
We observed a group of three young female Somali wild asses to develop an ethogram of social behavior in the first phase of a longer term study of social, sexual, and maternal/infant behavior. The most unexpected finding was the frequency and extent of aggressive interactions, which included Charge, Drive, Neck Wrestle, Head Butt, and Body Slam, behaviors previously reported only for males of other equid species. The overall frequency of aggressive behavior was higher than that of affiliative behavior (84±16.5 vs. 32±5.5, P=0.03), yet no injuries occurred. The dyadic directionality of aggressive behavior suggested a dominance hierarchy, a feature not previously reported for either wild ass or domestic donkeys. The aggression observed may be an accurate representation of the behavior of this species, or their relatively young ages, or their recent transfer from their natal group through quarantine and into a new enclosure may have heightened agonistic tendencies. Further studies will determine whether with time their aggressive behavior becomes more intense or dissipates with maturity.