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Animal welfare and reptiles, amphibians, fish and inverts

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Jarne, 10 Jun 2020.

  1. Jarne

    Jarne Well-Known Member

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    The past decades, animal welfare has become a very important part of any zoo (as it should be). However, it's very clear that not every group get's the attention it deserves. Whilst large mammals are often subjected to strict standards, reptiles, amphibians, fish and inverts often are somewhat ignored. I have yet to see an aquarium for example that doesn't have multiple setups that are clearly quite stressful for the fish, for example many cichlid tanks which house way to many territorial fish inside them or tanks that are simply too small. Sharks are also often kept too small, like the blacktips in Antwerpen who are probably unable to mate because the water level is too low. Crocodiles often have very little room to move, especially the larger species. Snakes are often kept in terraria where they can never stretch out, whilst there has been a study showcasing that this is actually quite important for the animals. Snakes are also commonly kept together though this can and has lead to snakes being killed/eaten by conspecifics if not done carefully. Turtles are often kept in groups with a lot of aggression, resulting in stress. I've even once heard that for most species of turtles (especially tortoises) it's advised to have no more then 5 turtles inside the enclosure, although I did not find the original source for this statement. Inverts on the other hand, especially tarantula's, are sometimes being kept in enclosures where they can barely move at all.

    On the other hand there are also enclosures like the Anaconda-enclosure in GaiaZoo, the rattlesnakes in Burgers' Zoo and the nile-crocodiles in Blijdorp that really stand out when it comes to reptiles. I would think the pond in Amazonica (Blijdorp) on the other hand is an example of one of the better fishtanks, with very few individuals and lots of space for the large arapaima. Most tanks in Burgers' ocean also come to mind, like the shark tank that's not filled to the brim or the eagle-rays kept without sharks.

    I'm interested what other examples are out there of both good and bad enclosures for these groups, and what actually defines the difference between the two. It might also be interesting if some reptile-veterans could share what they find to be the greatest and most often sins in zoos.
     
  2. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    I think many reptile keepers in zoos don't even know these welfare issues. Besides, many reptiles are treated as clones with too little regard to species requirements, e.g. different temperature.
    Also the problem is that turtles and crocodiles are long-lived so animals accumulate in a zoo which lacks space for them all.
     
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  3. Jarne

    Jarne Well-Known Member

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    Not the first time I heard about the longevity problem. This does create another problem: as many long-lived species are commonly available by private keepers or from the few zoos that actually do breed them and they often live long regardless of the enclosure, there is little pressure to create good enclosures. After all they don't need to breed them themselves.
     
  4. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    When I read for example the manual for keeping ploughshare tortoises below, it is simply a different league to how zoos usually treat reptiles.
    https://www.eaza.net/assets/Uploads...Practice-Guidelines-Ploughshare-tortoise1.pdf

    I think there is a need of a whole mental shift. For small animals, zoos are still like in the 1970s for primates and carnivores.

    It also does not help that reptiles do not show their emotions by facial mimic like monkeys. Many also freeze in fear, which many people cannot recognize from not moving because they are content. Experienced reptile keepers can recognize how their reptiles feel. And reptiles do have emotions and personalities like any other animal. Give a tortoise a choice between different options, and you will soon discover that it has as much character, likes, dislikes and individuality as an average mammal.

    BTW, if somebody on Zoochat would be looking for something to do in zoos, reptiles, amphibians and fish are a field where lots of good can be done.
     
    Last edited: 11 Jun 2020