CZAAWE Resource Article

Low environmental temperature causes an increase in stereotypic behaviour in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Thermal Biology
(1) Captive Asian elephants exhibited a strong negative correlation between maximum daily temperature and the frequency of stereotypic behaviour, in those animals predisposed to exhibit stereotypies. (2) The frequency of stereotypic behaviours increased throughout each study day (1000–1400 h), reaching maximum values at the end of the day, asfeeding time approached. (3) The frequenciesof stereotypic behaviour were higher at all timesof the day on the 10 coldest days (mean maximum daily temperature 9.0 C) than on the 10 warmest days (mean maximum daily temperature=23.2 C) of the study. (4) There was a strong negative correlation between body mass and mean frequency of stereotypic behaviour. This may have been because smaller animals lost heat faster than larger animals. (5) The aetiology of stereotypic behaviour was unclear, but it was likely to be the result of poor husbandry experienced in early life, such as chaining and inappropriate housing. Hunger and the physical thwarting of attempts to reach food and shelter may have been the proximate cause of individual episodes of stereotypic behaviour, with temperature acting as a compounding factor. There was no evidence that stereotypic behaviour developed in response to exposure to cold.