Zoo Closure Does Not Affect Behavior and Activity Patterns of Palawan Binturong (Arctictis binturong whitei)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Katherine Finch, Megan Leary, Lisa Holmes, Leah J Williams
Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens
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Exploring the interaction between humans and animals has become increasingly important in the evaluation of well-being for species housed in zoos and aquaria. The COVID-19 pandemic saw the global closure of zoos and aquaria to visitors. Chester Zoo, U.K., was no exception, with the charity shutting its doors for the longest period in its 90-year history. Whilst access to site was strictly limited to essential animal care staff, recent investment in networked infrared CCTV camera systems allowed some species to be monitored remotely during this extraordinary period of zoo closure. Here, we used this equipment to investigate whether zoo closure influenced activity patterns and behavior of two adult Palawan binturong, Arctictis binturong whitei. The cameras facilitated behavioral monitoring over 24 h enabling the collection of a full activity budget, which revealed a natural crepuscular activity pattern. Overall, visitor presence was found to have a neutral effect on this species, with no significant difference observed in time spent engaging in den use, vigilance or travel behaviors during zoo open and zoo closed conditions. A neutral visitor effect was found when evaluating behavior over a 24 h period and during hours which the zoo would normally be open to visitors (10:00–16:30). This research presents new information on this elusive and understudied species in captivity, and promotes investment in monitoring equipment which enables more comprehensive behavioral sampling than traditional visitor-effect methods.


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