CZAAWE Resource Article

Retreat space and human visitor density moderate undesirable behavior in petting zoo animals
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
This study focused on the relationship between nonhuman animal behavior and envi-ronment- specifically, between the undesirable behavior exhibited by domestic pet-ting zoo animals in the presence of humans and the spatial design of the petting zoo environment. A spatial feature of a petting zoo referred to as a retreat space was ma-nipulated so that it affected the animals' opportunity for individual control over inter-action with humans. Three conditions were tested: no retreat space, semi-retreat space, and a full-retreat space. The subjects of this study were 5 African pygmy goats (Capra hircus) and 2 Romanov sheep (Ovis aries). Investigators used a focal sam-pling technique to analyze approximately 27 hr of behavioral data collected. The data were analyzed using multiple linear regression methods. The findings suggest that the full-retreat design beneficially moderated both sheep and goat behavior: Undesirable behaviors were lowest in the full-retreat condition. This study provides information that may improve human-animal interactions in a petting zoo setting and may in-crease animal well-being through exhibit design and management techniques.