Analysis of stereotypic behaviour and enhanced management in captive Northern Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis housed at Zoological Garden Alipore, Kolkata
Year of Publication:
|Tushar Pramod Kulkarni
|Journal of Threatened Taxa
|animal welfare, behavioural abnormalities, enrichment, giraffe, stereotypy
In the wild, giraffes live complex social lives exhibiting fission-fusion social systems. They have sophisticated communication which likely forms a crucial component regulating subgroup dynamics. They spend a large part of their day browsing and traveling over large distances. In captivity, lack of continuous browsing opportunities and limited space can lead to various abnormal and stereotypic behaviours. These stereotypic behaviours can have cascading detrimental health consequences. A behavioural analysis of stereotypic behaviours in giraffes under human care was conducted to evaluate sources of variation within a population and provide management recommendations. The aim of this investigation was threefold: 1. to examine current behaviour of giraffes in Zoological Garden Alipore, Kolkata to advise on their enhanced management; 2. to highlight any behavioural abnormalities and recommend enrichment mechanisms; and 3. to compare the observed stereotypic behaviours with behaviour described in other zoological institutions and in the wild to provide a focal trajectory in the development of guidelines. Four individuals (two adult males, one adult female, and one male calf) were observed outdoors for seven days, three times a day for 30 minutes by instantaneous scan sampling method. During the observation period, the giraffe exhibited oral stereotypy more than any other behaviour recorded, though this was recorded disproportionally between individuals. The giraffe spent a larger amount of time exhibiting oral stereotypy compared to feeding/foraging activities. The study suggests incorporating diet and feeding strategies with provision of natural browse as well as offering enrichment methods to increase the foraging time using various time-engaged feeding devices to mitigate the observed abnormal stereotypic behaviour. Additionally, recommendations are made for expanding the size of the open enclosure to meet guidelines by the Central Zoo Authority, as a minimum.