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Feeding live prey to zoo animals: response of zoo visitors in Switzerland


Cottle, L; Tamir, D; Hyseni, M; Bühler, D; Lindemann-Matthies, P (2010). Feeding live prey to zoo animals: response of zoo visitors in Switzerland. Zoo Biology, 29(3):344-350.

Abstract

In summer 2007, with the help of a written questionnaire, the attitudes of more than 400 visitors to the zoological garden of Zurich, Switzerland, toward the idea of feeding live insects to lizards, live fish to otters, and live rabbits to tigers were investigated. The majority of Swiss zoo visitors agreed with the idea of feeding live prey (invertebrates and vertebrates) to zoo animals, both off- and on-exhibit, except in the case of feeding live rabbits to tigers on-exhibit. Women and frequent visitors of the zoo disagreed more often with the on-exhibit feeding of live rabbits to tigers. Study participants with a higher level of education were more likely to agree with the idea of feeding live invertebrates and vertebrates to zoo animals
off-exhibit. In comparison to an earlier study undertaken in Scotland, zoo visitors in Switzerland were more often in favor of the live feeding of vertebrates. Feeding live prey can counter the loss of hunting skills of carnivores and improve the animals’ well-being. However, feeding enrichments have to strike a balance between optimal living conditions of animals and the quality of visitor experience.
Our results show that such a balance can be found, especially when live feeding of mammals is carried out off-exhibit. A good interpretation of food enrichment might help zoos to win more support for the issue, and for re-introduction programs and conservation.

In summer 2007, with the help of a written questionnaire, the attitudes of more than 400 visitors to the zoological garden of Zurich, Switzerland, toward the idea of feeding live insects to lizards, live fish to otters, and live rabbits to tigers were investigated. The majority of Swiss zoo visitors agreed with the idea of feeding live prey (invertebrates and vertebrates) to zoo animals, both off- and on-exhibit, except in the case of feeding live rabbits to tigers on-exhibit. Women and frequent visitors of the zoo disagreed more often with the on-exhibit feeding of live rabbits to tigers. Study participants with a higher level of education were more likely to agree with the idea of feeding live invertebrates and vertebrates to zoo animals
off-exhibit. In comparison to an earlier study undertaken in Scotland, zoo visitors in Switzerland were more often in favor of the live feeding of vertebrates. Feeding live prey can counter the loss of hunting skills of carnivores and improve the animals’ well-being. However, feeding enrichments have to strike a balance between optimal living conditions of animals and the quality of visitor experience.
Our results show that such a balance can be found, especially when live feeding of mammals is carried out off-exhibit. A good interpretation of food enrichment might help zoos to win more support for the issue, and for re-introduction programs and conservation.

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1 citation in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:live feeding, re-introduction, visitor experience, well-being, survey
Language:English
Date:July 2010
Deposited On:16 Jan 2010 20:10
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:43
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0733-3188
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www3.interscience.wiley.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.20261
PubMed ID:19598253
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-26819

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