Sleep-related behaviors in zoo-housed giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata): Basic characteristics and effects of season and parturition

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
N. Takagi, M. Saito, H. Ito, M. Tanaka, Y. Yamanashi
Zoo Biology
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Despite increasing interest in the behavior of zoo animals, studies of nocturnal behavior of zoo animals are limited. In this study, we investigated the relationship between parturition, season, and the sleep-related behaviors in captive reticulated giraffes to better understand the nocturnal life in giraffes. The subjects were two adult reticulated giraffes living in Kyoto City Zoo, Japan. Observations were made via an infrared camera that was mounted in the indoor enclosure between June 2007 and August 2009. We analyzed video clips that were recorded between 16:30 and 09:00 the next morning, over a total of 199 days. Sleep-related behaviors were classified into two categories based on the posture of the giraffes; recumbent posture and paradoxical sleep. We also recorded the laterality of recumbent posture, which was coded based on the direction of the legs against the torso (right or left). Seasonal differences in sleep behaviors between summer and winter were observed in both individuals. They tended to start to lie down earlier in the winter than in the summer. Parturition also affected the behaviors as both individuals decreased the behaviors before and after the parturition of the female. Additionally, the female lay on her left side less frequently than her right when resuming a recumbent posture in the pre-parturition period, while such laterality was not observed in the baseline and post-parturition period. These results suggested that season and parturition are important factors for determining the sleep-related behaviors in giraffes. Further studies are needed to understand how these changes in sleep affect other welfare parameters.


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