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Impact of a new exhibit on stereotypic behaviour in an elderly captive African elephant (Loxodonta africana)


Schiffmann, Christian; Clauss, Marcus; Hoby, Stefan (2019). Impact of a new exhibit on stereotypic behaviour in an elderly captive African elephant (Loxodonta africana). Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 7(1):37-43.

Abstract

Stereotypic behaviour in zoo elephants is considered an indicator of impaired welfare. The underlying causes are diverse and many aspects are still unexplored. Nevertheless, many zoological institutions make huge efforts to improve the well-being of their elephants. The construction of a new exhibit provides a chance to gain further evidence on the impact of such measures on elephant behaviour. We report a significant decrease in both the amount and frequency of swaying in an elderly African elephant (Loxodonta africana) after transition to a new enclosure. While we assume that continuous social interactions, increased freedom of choice and appropriate resting locations were critical for the distinct improvement of this individual´s well-being, the only factor that significantly correlated with swaying in this individual was the amount of time per day the elephant group was separated. Thus, corresponding adaptations in elephant husbandry are also encouraged in facilities without resources for the building of extensive new exhibits and may lead to increased zoo elephant welfare.

Abstract

Stereotypic behaviour in zoo elephants is considered an indicator of impaired welfare. The underlying causes are diverse and many aspects are still unexplored. Nevertheless, many zoological institutions make huge efforts to improve the well-being of their elephants. The construction of a new exhibit provides a chance to gain further evidence on the impact of such measures on elephant behaviour. We report a significant decrease in both the amount and frequency of swaying in an elderly African elephant (Loxodonta africana) after transition to a new enclosure. While we assume that continuous social interactions, increased freedom of choice and appropriate resting locations were critical for the distinct improvement of this individual´s well-being, the only factor that significantly correlated with swaying in this individual was the amount of time per day the elephant group was separated. Thus, corresponding adaptations in elephant husbandry are also encouraged in facilities without resources for the building of extensive new exhibits and may lead to increased zoo elephant welfare.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Language:English
Date:2019
Deposited On:18 Feb 2019 13:03
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:19
Publisher:EAZA
ISSN:2214-7594
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.

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