Join our zoo community

Zoos Breaking Ground in Animal Welfare

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by JoelW, 6 Sep 2016.

  1. JoelW

    JoelW Member

    Joined:
    5 Sep 2016
    Posts:
    6
    Location:
    London
    Criticism around zoos (some of it warranted) is never ending. Do any of you work in, or know of, a zoo doing really good work in improving animal welfare? Could be through enclosure design or just clever enrichment programs.
     
  2. Nikola Chavkosk

    Nikola Chavkosk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    17 Feb 2016
    Posts:
    1,309
    Location:
    Prilep, R. Macedonia
    I can think of:
    -Snakes, or reptiles in general, needing larger enclosures for opportunities for proper locomotion (eg. for snakes in terrarium) that otherwise can't be accomplished in a small terrarium. Or needing larger space for more investigation opportunities (for reptiles).

    -Also adding living trees/grass (green mass) to enclosures wich generaly looks barren (and with lot of concrete like enclosures for orangutans, polar bears, or for elephants). ''Each square metre of grass-covered surface is different investigation opportunity (like for smells for example)''.

    -Strictly-proper diet for certain animals, like for example for black rhinos who needs browse and not grass/hay - because grass can kill them (containing 10 to 100 times more iron than browse). Browsing rumminants (giraffe, okapi, deer, impala, gerenuk, bongo, etc.) are far more resistant to iron in grass/alfalfa/hay from grass/alfalfa, than are black rhinos.
     
  3. antonmuster

    antonmuster Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    21 Aug 2014
    Posts:
    58
    Location:
    europe
    Zoo Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Rapperswil founded the "Kompetenzzentrum Wildtierhaltung" (competence-centre in wildlife husbandry) in 2008, which just recently published the following brochure on species appropriate wildlife husbandry. Heini Hediger, director of the zoos in Basel, Bern, and Zurich (in succession) was a pioneer in animal welfare in wildlife husbandry, and the current directors of these three zoos, I would say, are very much commited to following-up on his legacy (Masoala, Etosha, and many other exhibits are results of this committment).
     
  4. Giant Panda

    Giant Panda Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    24 Jan 2016
    Posts:
    577
    Location:
    UK (mostly)
    Hi Joel.

    This is an exciting time for zoo animal welfare research, as the importance of applying scientific rigour is increasingly accepted. One important trend, still in its infancy, is a shift from minimizing signs of poor welfare (eg. stereotypies, poor health, and elevated corticoid levels) to promoting indicators of good welfare (eg. play and affiliative behaviours). There's also increasing recognition that zoos should not only give animals what they're perceived to want/need (animal care- and resource-based approaches, typified by husbandry manuals), but also establish whether the welfare needs of individuals are being met (evidence-based approaches). Enrichment, too, is a burgeoning field, and the universal adoption of post-occupancy evaluations for new exhibits is long overdue. If this work is carried out on a large-scale and the results applied to everyday management, zoos will move beyond being just adequate (or not even that), towards reflecting true excellence in animal welfare. From animals that survive to animals that thrive.

    As for zoos at the forefront of this movement, most of the 'heavy lifting' is done by only a few institutions. You might want to look at Detroit, the Smithsonian, Brookfield (see https://www.welfaretrak.org/), Chester, Antwerp, and Zoos Victoria as examples. In the medium- to long-term, I'd like to see significant resources allocated to welfare by most or all zoos, as is current policy for conservation (also underfunded). Even those unable to afford dedicated research departments can conduct small-scale projects and collaborate with other zoos, universities, etc. to carry out larger ones.


    If you're seriously interested in the field, these papers (all available online) would be a good starting point:

    1) Dawkins, M. S. (2006). A user's guide to animal welfare science. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 21(2), 77-82.

    2) Hill, S., & Broom, D. (2009). Measuring zoo animal welfare: Theory and practice. Zoo Biology, 28(6), 531-544.

    3) Melfi, V. (2009). There are big gaps in our knowledge, and thus approach, to zoo animal welfare: A case for evidenceā€based zoo animal management. Zoo Biology, 28(6), 574-588.

    4) Whitham, J., & Wielebnowski, N. (2013). New directions for zoo animal welfare science. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147(3), 247-260.

    5) Kagan, R., Carter, S., & Allard, S. (2015). A universal animal welfare framework for zoos. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 18(sup1), S1-S10.

    6) Special edition of the WAZA magazine (16, 2015): https://www.friscris.be/files/88764/Gusset_Dick_2015.pdf#page=32


    Some major multi-institutional welfare studies:

    1) Wielebnowski, N., Fletchall, N., Carlstead, K., Busso, J., & Brown, J. (2002). Noninvasive assessment of adrenal activity associated with husbandry and behavioral factors in the North American clouded leopard population. Zoo Biology, 21(1), 77-98.

    2) Carlstead, K., & Brown, J. (2005). Relationships between patterns of fecal corticoid excretion and behavior, reproduction, and environmental factors in captive black (Diceros bicornis) and white (Ceratotherium simum) rhinoceros. Zoo Biology, 24(3), 215-232.

    3) Shepherdson, D., Lewis, K., Carlstead, K., Bauman, J., & Perrin, N. (2013). Individual and environmental factors associated with stereotypic behavior and fecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels in zoo housed polar bears. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 147(3), 268-277.

    4) Meehan, C., Mench, J., Carlstead, K., & Hogan, J. (2016). Determining connections between the daily lives of zoo elephants and their welfare: an epidemiological approach. PloS one, 11(7), e0158124.


    For a comprehensive overview, Maple & Perdue's Zoo Animal Welfare (2013) is superb, but costs enough to buy a small zoo. The Zoos Expert Committee (formerly the Zoos Forum) Handbook is also a useful resource: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...1/pb13815-zoos-expert-committee-handbook1.pdf. Many other good books on animal welfare are not restricted to zoos.
     
    Last edited: 6 Sep 2016
  5. gerenuk

    gerenuk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    4 Jul 2010
    Posts:
    751
    Location:
    USA
    @Giant Panda that's a well written and thorough response. I'm looking forward to reviewing much of the resources you mentioned.

    I'm starting to notice a shift in zoos that are exhibiting more reptiles, including the smaller ones generally kept in indoor terrariums, in an outdoor setting. Rainbow Springs (Rotorua, NZ), Auckland, Hartley's Crocodile Adventures (Cairns, Australia), and Brevard Zoo (Florida, USA) all have good examples.

    Giant Panda mentioned before Detroit and Brookfield have staff dedicated to studying and improving the wellness of their animals. I had an opportunity to take part in a study that measured keeper intuition as a way to study behavioral/wellness patterns in animals - this study was managed by Brookfield Zoo.

    Trail systems being pioneered by Philadelphia Zoo and Mixed-species enclosure rotation as seen in Louisville Zoo (Kentucky, USA) and Pt Defiance Zoo (Washington, USA) are other advances into providing new stimuli - which can be a factor in promoting wellness.

    In the last 5 years, collectively AZA zoos that manage elephants are holistically collecting various forms of data on their elephants to determine what factors can be used to measure wellness and physical health beyond what has been traditionally used. The first results were released back in 2013. Many of these studies are still being run or even expanded.

    Browse and carcass nutrition programs are constantly being evaluated at various zoos.

    Traditionally zoos have looked to agriculture as a way to improve zoo animal husbandry. For once, the train of thought is shifting more towards how wild counterparts of zoo animals are living and thriving in the wild. And trying to replicate this with zoo animals. Even the temporary olfactory/visual presence of predators (whether alive or even paper mache replicas) as a negative stimuli is important to overall well-being.
     
  6. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    10 Feb 2009
    Posts:
    5,415
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    San Diego Safari Park did a study of tiger behavior in their old large (3 acre) but simple exhibit and their new smaller but more varied exhibits at Tiger Trail. They found in the old exhibit the tigers would basically go to one spot and lie down for long periods. In the new exhibits they explore much more of the space and are generally more active.
    (Source - conversation heard in person at exhibit from a keeper).
     
  7. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    1,575
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Zoos should more use objective measurements of animal well-being, like level of stress hormones or providing choice and accepting animals' own preference.

    This should solve controversial cases when welfare is uncertain, not intuitive or contradictory opinions exist. For example, do surplus males really feel better when castrated, rather than housed alone for several years before taking over female group? Do animals really feel significantly better when breeding is unrestricted, when young need to be culled? Do solitary animals can or cannot happily live in groups?

    Zoo workers and animal enthusiasts are sometimes surprisingly hard-headed, ignoring real animal welfare for preference of their own ideas when animals should be happy. For example, zoo gorillas prefer shade and staying indoors, but many zoos still shut them on the grassy outside paddocks. In one zoo, gorillas were found to prefer classical music (like many reclusive people, indeed), but zoo given them no music or wildlife sounds, as 'more natural'. Zoo in Warsaw has old exhibit of brown bears located outside zoo gates, facing a public street. Bears bred there multiple times, and measuring level of stress hormones showed that they are just as happy as bears living inside the zoo. But the zoo director keeps talking that it is outdated and bears should be relocated.
     
  8. JoelW

    JoelW Member

    Joined:
    5 Sep 2016
    Posts:
    6
    Location:
    London
    Hi all, thanks so much for these thought-out responses. A lot to go off, and a lot of extra reading to get stuck into. Really appreciate your time :)
     
  9. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    632
    Location:
    Melbourne
  10. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 Sep 2014
    Posts:
    142
    Location:
    Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire
    The welfare of zoo animals will improve when we select animals that do well in captivity. Not only by selecting sepecies that do well in captivity but by selecting individuals that are better adjusted to life in a zoo. This is already happening in that docile animals that adapt well to captivity are more likely to breed than nervous, wild individuals. The classic zoo animals all need to be domesticated so that they are better adapted to a life in captivity.
     
  11. Vision

    Vision Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Aug 2015
    Posts:
    266
    Location:
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I can't say I agree to that statement, and certainly not the last sentence. Zoos shouldn't only focus on animals that are 'easy' to keep, as long as it is morally possible they should, in my opinion, rather expand their reach so that animals with harder husbandry can also be bred in captivity. (a good example, in my opinion, are the douc langurs; a very threatened genus that in general doesn't do incredibly well in captivity, but would profit from an ex situ breeding program).
    By domesticating those wild animals, not only do we take away the possibility for them (or any of their future generations) to be released safely into the wild again, should that ever be necessary, but also educationally zoos would be sending a wrong message entirely; people visit a zoo to observe animals they usually wouldn't be able to, not only for their looks, but also for their behaviour.
     
  12. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 Sep 2014
    Posts:
    142
    Location:
    Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire
    Some good points. We should not confuse animals being uised for display and those used for conservation. They need to be treated as distinct populations. Classic zoo animals are already being domesticated with various colour morphs being common, - tigers, lions, wallabies, ring-neck parakeets, cockatiels, manadarin ducks, golden pheasants, Burmese pythons, king snakes. This does not necessarily detract from the messages zoos are putting across. Most zoos will have some domesticated zoo animals in their collections.

    The longer a species is kept in captivity, with each new generation, it becomes less suitable for reintroduction since there will be selection for captive conditions.

    Of course if species are to be kept and bred for conservation purposes then a concerted effort needs to go into their care and study. These are very different from the general population of classic zoo animals.

    Do we really disagree?
     
  13. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,037
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    With the exceptions of the two big cat species, all the colour morphs you mention originate from the pet market, where the commercial selective breeding of morphs is commonplace. Such specimens are either bought by the zoos from the exotic pet trade or, which is more often the case in modern zoos, were donated as former private pets, consficated, are private pets of individual staff members etc. Most established zoos I know of do not breed any of the morphs you mentioned selectively and on purpose.
    Colour morphs of tigers and lions (especially the "whites") have been selectively bred by some zoos in the past (among others Cincinnati) to generate profit. Nowadays, most established zoos refrain from doing so, and the ones still breeding them are usually privately owned zoos, amusement parks, circuses, exotic pet breeders etc. Nevertheless, amelanistic, xanthic, leucistic etc. specimens are occasionally presented as attractions (such as white American alligators) by zoos, which are sometimes brought in from the wild or, again, from the commercial trade.

    Keeping parallel populations of "domesticated" and "ready to release" populations of endangered species might go beyond the scope of what zoos and dedicated private owners are capable to practically upheld for a longer period of time.
     
    Last edited: 12 Sep 2016
  14. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    6,391
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    Off the top of my head, I think the UK collection with the fewest domestic species in comparison to the overall number of species held would definitely be Chester - unless I am forgetting anything, they have only a single domestic species in the entire collection (Bactrian Camel) and this is one which, in my opinion, perhaps could better be classified in an intermediate "feral" category rather than counting it among the ilk of white tigers or colour-morph snakes and parrots.

    By comparison, ZSL London holds 17 domestic taxa by my reckoning.
     
  15. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    879
    Location:
    York, England
    Their latest annual report lists Java Dove (Streptopelia risoria), but that would still only be two.
     
  16. Carl Jones

    Carl Jones Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    27 Sep 2014
    Posts:
    142
    Location:
    Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire
    It depends how you define domesticated. Zoos have many species that have been bred in captivity for multiple generations and will be showing behavioural and physiological adaptation to captive conditions.
     
  17. Macaw16

    Macaw16 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    879
    Location:
    York, England
    I would probably consider them domestic, but as this thread wasn't intended to discuss domestication, I'll leave it at that.