Space Use as an Indicator of Enclosure Appropriateness in African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Sally C. Hunter, Markus Gusset, Lance J. Miller, Michael J. Somers
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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A clear understanding of space use is required to more fully understand biological requirements of nonhuman animals in zoos, aid the design of exhibits, and maximize the animals’ welfare. This study used electivity indexes to assess space use of two packs of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and the appropriateness of two naturalistic, outdoor enclosures at the San Diego Zoo and Bronx Zoo. The results identified enclosure features that were both underutilized and overutilized. They suggest that replacing underutilized areas with features similar to areas that were overutilized may provide more preferred opportunities for the animals. Assessing space use of animals in human care may serve as an indicator of enclosure appropriateness and could have welfare implications. By looking at the possible reasons for area preferences, animal managers can get an idea of where improvements could be made. Designing future exhibits accordingly thus can provide possible welfare benefits for the animals concerned.


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