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Dorey N.R.,University of Florida | Mehrkam L.R.,University of Florida | Tacey J.,Busch Gardens
Zoo Biology | Year: 2015

It is currently debated as to whether or not positive reinforcement training is enriching to captive animals. Although both husbandry training and environmental enrichment (EE) have been found to benefit animal welfare in captivity, to date, no systematic investigation has compared an animal's preference for performing a trained behavior to engaging freely with a stimuli provided as EE. In the current paper, we used four captive wolves to (1) test the efficacy of a paired-stimulus preference assessment to determine preference for engaging in a trained behavior as a choice; and to (2) use a paired-stimulus preference assessment to determine whether or not individuals prefer to engage in a previously trained behavior versus a previously encountered EE stimuli. Of the four subjects tested, visual inspection of the graphs revealed that two of the subjects preferred trained behavior stimuli and two of the subjects preferred EE stimuli; only one of the wolves had a statically higher preference for an EE stimulus over a trained behavior. We believe that letting the animals choose between these two events is the first step in answering the question of whether or not is training enriching, however more research needs to be done and suggestions for future research is discussed. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Schmidt D.A.,Lincoln Park Zoo | Barbiers R.B.,Lincoln Park Zoo | Ellersieck M.R.,University of Missouri | Ball R.L.,Busch Gardens | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2011

Serum chemistry analyses were compared between captive and free-ranging giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in an attempt to better understand some of the medical issues seen with captive giraffes. Illnesses, including peracute mortality, energy malnutrition, pancreatic disease, urolithiasis, hoof disease, and severe intestinal parasitism, may be related to zoo nutrition and management issues. Serum samples were collected from 20 captive giraffes at 10 United States institutions. Thirteen of the captive animal samples were collected from animals trained for blood collection; seven were banked samples obtained from a previous serum collection. These samples were compared with serum samples collected from 24 free-ranging giraffes in South Africa. Differences between captive and free-ranging giraffes, males and females, and adults and subadults were analyzed by using a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial and Fisher's least significant difference for mean separation; when necessary variables were ranked and analyzed via analysis of variance. Potassium and bilirubin concentrations and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activities were different between captive and free-ranging giraffes, but all fell within normal bovid reference ranges. The average glucose concentration was significantly elevated in free-ranging giraffes (161 mg/dl) compared with captive giraffes (113 mg/dl). All giraffes in this study had glucose concentrations higher than bovine (42-75 mg/dl) and caprine (48-76 mg/dl) reference ranges. Differences were also seen in lipase, chloride, and magnesium though these findings are likely not clinically significant. There were no differences detected between sexes. Adults had higher concentrations of potassium, total protein, globulins, and chloride and higher gamma glutamyltransferase activities, whereas subadults had higher concentrations of phosphorus. Within the captive group, nonimmobilized animals had higher concentrations of total protein and globulins. Captive giraffe diets need further investigation to determine if the differences seen in this study, especially glucose and bilirubin concentrations and ALT activities, may result in some health problems often seen in captive giraffes. © 2011 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Koutsos E.A.,Mazuri Exotic Animal Nutrition PMI Nutrition Intl LLC | Armstrong D.,Omahas Henry Doorly Zoo | Ball R.,Busch Gardens | Dikeman C.,Omahas Henry Doorly Zoo | And 5 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2011

In response to new recommendations for feeding giraffe in zoos, giraffe (n = 6) were transitioned from a typical hoofstock diet to diets containing reduced starch, protein, Ca and P and added n3 fatty acids. This diet was fed as a 50:50 mix with alfalfa and grass hay. Over the next 4 years, serum Ca, P, and fatty acids were measured every 6 months (summer and winter). Serum Ca was not affected by season (P = 0.67) or by diet (P = 0.12). Serum P was not affected season (P = 0.14), but was reduced by diet (P<0.01), and serum Ca:P was also increased by diet (P<0.01). The ratio of serum Ca:P tended to be affected by season (P = 0.07), in which animals tended to have greater Ca:P during the summer vs. the winter. The diet transition resulted in reduced serum saturated fatty acids (including lauric, myristic, palmitic, arachidic, and behenic acids), and increases in n6 fatty acids (including linolenic and arachidonic acids) and n3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid) (P<0.05 for each). Overall, this diet transition resulted in blood nutrient profiles that more closely match that of values found in free-ranging giraffe. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

News Article
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

After years of pressure, SeaWorld made a surprise announcement: It no longer breeds killer whales in captivity and will soon stop making them leap from their pools or splash audiences on command. Surrendering Thursday to a profound shift in how people feel about using animals for entertainment, the SeaWorld theme parks have joined a growing list of industries dropping live animal tricks. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is retiring all of its touring elephants in May. Once-popular animal shows in Las Vegas have virtually disappeared. "Society's attitude toward these very, very large, majestic animals under human care has shifted for a variety of reasons, whether it's a film, legislation, people's comments on the Internet," SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby said. "It wasn't worth fighting that. We needed to move where society was moving." SeaWorld's 29 killer whales will remain in captivity, but in "new, inspiring natural orca encounters," according to the company. SeaWorld's orcas range in age from 1 to 51 years old, so some could remain on display for decades. Attendance at SeaWorld's parks declined after the 2013 release of "Blackfish," a highly critical documentary. Some top musical acts dropped out of SeaWorld-sponsored concerts at the urging of animal rights activists, who kept up a visible presence demonstrating outside the parks' gates. Still, the decision shocked advocates who have spent decades campaigning against keeping marine mammals captive, and it represents a sharp U-turn from SeaWorld's previous reaction to the documentary. In August 2014, SeaWorld announced major new investments in the orca program, including new, larger tanks, first in San Diego and then at its parks in Orlando and San Antonio, Texas. But the California Coastal Commision didn't approve the $100 million expansion until last October, and when it did, it banned orca breeding as part of the decision. SeaWorld sued, arguing that the commission overstepped its authority, but said it would end its San Diego orca shows by 2017. Meanwhile, SeaWorld brought in a new leader with more experience in regional theme parks than zoos and aquariums, which have been fending off such protests for decades. Manby was hired as SeaWorld CEO last March 19 after running Dollywood and other musically-themed parks. He said Thursday that he brought a "fresh perspective" to the killer whale quandary, and soon realized that "society is shifting here." Orcas have been a centerpiece of the SeaWorld parks since shows at the Shamu stadium in San Diego became the main draw in the 1970s. But criticism has steadily increased in the decades since and then became sharper after an orca named Tilikum battered and drowned trainer Dawn Brancheau after a "Dine with Shamu" show in Orlando in 2010. Her death was highlighted in "Blackfish," and it wasn't the first for Tilikum. The whale also killed an animal trainer and a trespasser in the 1990s. "Blackfish" director Gabriela Cowperthwaite said she applauds SeaWorld's decision, "but mostly I applaud the public for recalibrating how they feel ethically about orcas in captivity." The new orca shows will begin next year at the San Diego park, before expanding to its San Antonio park and then to Orlando in 2019, Manby said. What about shows involving dolphins and other marine mammals? "Stay tuned on that," Manby said. "A lot of people don't understand how hard it is internally to make these kinds of decisions. We need to execute this well. We need to make sure we have the organization in the same direction. Then we will apply those learnings elsewhere." SeaWorld has not only discontinued breeding orcas through artificial insemination; it also feeds the whales birth control medication, Manby said. One of SeaWorld's most prolific breeders has been Tilikum. The 35-year-old whale has sired 14 calves during his 23 years in Orlando, but he's gravely ill now and not expected to live much longer. "So you're saying you're ending your breeding program? Well, guess what? Your breeding program is ending anyhow. I think it's greenwashing," said Ric O'Barry, who directs the DolphinProject.net advocacy group. In 2012, SeaWorld sent workers to infiltrate the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has been particularly critical. Manby confirmed the effort last month. He said the undercover workers were sent to protect the safety of SeaWorld employees and customers, but he vowed to end the practice. Now, SeaWorld hopes to turn a less strident foe, the Humane Society, into a collaborator, helping to educate guests about animal welfare and conservation through interpretive programs and expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals and other marine creatures. Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, who called SeaWorld's about-face a "monumental announcement," said his organization is by no means naive about SeaWorld, but sees a chance to make progress for animal rights." "We didn't want to be endlessly mired in conflict," Pacelle said. PETA wasn't satisfied, insisting Thursday that SeaWorld should give up its orcas altogether. "SeaWorld must open its tanks to the oceans to allow the orcas it now holds captive to have some semblance of a life outside these prison tanks," PETA spokeswoman Colleen O'Brien said in a statement. Manby countered that no captive dolphin or orca has been successfully released into the wild. SeaWorld is abandoning plans to expand its orca tanks now that the breeding program has ended, the company said. A spokeswoman for the California Coastal Commission praised this, and suggested that SeaWorld drop its lawsuit as well. Manby said SeaWorld's three marine parks may move closer to the balance of rides, shows and animals found at the company's Busch Gardens parks. They need a mixture of experiences to keep a family at the park all day, he said. "I do think you have to have more rides," Manby said. "Some of these messages about animal welfare ... You can't hit them with that all day because sometimes it's a heavy message. You have to balance it."

Greco B.J.,University of California at Davis | Greco B.J.,Aware Inc | Meehan C.L.,Aware Inc | Miller L.J.,Chicago Zoological Society Brookfield Zoo | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

The management of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in zoos involves a range of practices including feeding, exercise, training, and environmental enrichment. These practices are necessary to meet the elephants' nutritional, healthcare, and husbandry needs. However, these practices are not standardized, resulting in likely variation among zoos as well as differences in the way they are applied to individual elephants within a zoo. To characterize elephant management in North America, we collected survey data from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, developed 26 variables, generated population level descriptive statistics, and analyzed them to identify differences attributable to sex and species. Sixty-seven zoos submitted surveys describing the management of 224 elephants and the training experiences of 227 elephants. Asian elephants spent more time managed (defined as interacting directly with staff) than Africans (mean time managed: Asians = 56.9%; Africans = 48.6%; p<0.001), and managed time increased by 20.2% for every year of age for both species. Enrichment, feeding, and exercise programs were evaluated using diversity indices, with mean scores across zoos in the midrange for these measures. There were an average of 7.2 feedings every 24-hour period, with only 1.2 occurring during the nighttime. Feeding schedules were predictable at 47.5% of zoos. We also calculated the relative use of rewarding and aversive techniques employed during training interactions. The population median was seven on a scale from one (representing only aversive stimuli) to nine (representing only rewarding stimuli). The results of our study provide essential information for understanding management variation that could be relevant to welfare. Furthermore, the variables we created have been used in subsequent elephant welfare analyses. © 2016 Greco et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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