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Holdgate M.R.,Portland State University | Holdgate M.R.,Conservation Research Division | Meehan C.L.,Aware Inc | Hogan J.N.,Aware Inc | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Research with humans and other animals suggests that walking benefits physical health. Perhaps because these links have been demonstrated in other species, it has been suggested that walking is important to elephant welfare, and that zoo elephant exhibits should be designed to allow for more walking. Our study is the first to address this suggestion empirically by measuring the mean daily walking distance of elephants in North American zoos, determining the factors that are associated with variations in walking distance, and testing for associations between walking and welfare indicators. We used anklets equipped with GPS data loggers to measure outdoor daily walking distance in 56 adult female African (n = 33) and Asian (n = 23) elephants housed in 30 North American zoos. We collected 259 days of data and determined associations between distance walked and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. Elephants walked an average of 5.3 km/day with no significant difference between species. In our multivariable model, more diverse feeding regimens were correlated with increased walking, and elephants who were fed on a temporally unpredictable feeding schedule walked 1.29 km/day more than elephants fed on a predictable schedule. Distance walked was also positively correlated with an increase in the number of social groupings and negatively correlated with age. We found a small but significant negative correlation between distance walked and nighttime Space Experience, but no other associations between walking distances and exhibit size were found. Finally, distance walked was not related to health or behavioral outcomes including foot health, joint health, body condition, and the performance of stereotypic behavior, suggesting that more research is necessary to determine explicitly how differences in walking may impact elephant welfare. © 2016 Holdgate 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.


Avalos-Tellez R.,National Autonomous University of Mexico | Ramirez-Pfeiffer C.,Instituto Nacional Of Investigaciones Forestales Y Agropecuarias Rio Bravo | Ramirez-Pfeiffer C.,Northern University of Mexico | Hernandez-Castro R.,Direccion de Investigacion | And 7 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2014

Infections with Brucella ceti and pinnipedialis are prevalent in marine mammals worldwide. A total of 22 California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) were examined to determine their exposure to Brucella spp. at San Esteban Island in the Gulf of California, Mexico, in June and July 2011. Although samples of blood, vaginal mucus and milk cultured negative for these bacteria, the application of rose Bengal, agar gel immunodiffusion, PCR and modified fluorescence polarization assays found that five animals (22.7%) had evidence of exposure to Brucella strains. The data also suggested that in two of these five sea lions the strains involved were of terrestrial origin, a novel finding in marine mammals. Further work will be required to validate and determine the epidemiological significance of this finding. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Holdgate M.R.,Portland State University | Holdgate M.R.,Conservation Research Division | Meehan C.L.,Aware Inc | Hogan J.N.,Aware Inc | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Resting behaviors are an essential component of animal welfare but have received little attention in zoological research. African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) rest includes recumbent postures, but no large-scale investigation of African and Asian zoo elephant recumbence has been previously conducted. We used anklets equipped with accelerometers to measure recumbence in 72 adult female African (n = 44) and Asian (n = 28) elephants housed in 40 North American zoos. We collected 344 days of data and determined associations between recumbence and social, housing, management, and demographic factors. African elephants were recumbent less (2.1 hours/day, S.D. = 1.1) than Asian elephants (3.2 hours/day, S.D. = 1.5; P < 0.001). Nearly onethird of elephants were non-recumbent on at least one night, suggesting this is a common behavior. Multi-variable regression models for each species showed that substrate, space, and social variables had the strongest associations with recumbence. In the African model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on all-hard substrate were recumbent 0.6 hours less per day than those who were never on all-hard substrate, and elephants who experienced an additional acre of outdoor space at night increased their recumbence by 0.48 hours per day. In the Asian model, elephants who spent any amount of time housed on allsoft substrate were recumbent 1.1 hours more per day more than those who were never on all-soft substrate, and elephants who spent any amount of time housed alone were recumbent 0.77 hours more per day than elephants who were never housed alone. Our results draw attention to the significant interspecific difference in the amount of recumbent rest and in the factors affecting recumbence; however, in both species, the influence of flooring substrate is notably important to recumbent rest, and by extension, zoo elephant welfare. © 2016 Holdgate 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.


Hacker C.E.,Institute for Conservation Research | Hacker C.E.,Western Kentucky University | Horback K.M.,University of Pennsylvania | Miller L.J.,Chicago Zoological Society Brookfield Zoo
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2015

The potential application of GPS technology in determining relationships among social animals was addressed in this study of eight African elephants residing at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, CA, USA between 2009 and 2011. GPS coordinates were collected over nine 24. h periods from eight different elephants. The average distances between individuals were then calculated for the morning, afternoon and evening time periods as well as for the entire 24. h. Behavioral data were collected to calculate rates of both positive and negative interactions between elephants as well as David's scores to measure sociality. Lastly, input from the management staff regarding the elephants' social relations was utilized to determine pairs who may display high levels of social proximity as well as the construction of a dominance structure. Significant correlations were found between the social relations determined by animal management staff and the GPS morning data (r= -0.431, P= 0.022), the social relations determined by animal management staff and the GPS daily data (r= -0.401, P= 0.034), the corrected David's scores and the GPS daily data (r= 0.471, P= 0.012), the early time period (r= 0.614, P= 0.001), the morning time period (r= 0.441, P= 0.020) and the afternoon time period (r= 0.474, P= 0.012) and the rate of positive social interactions and the GPS evening data (r= -0.386, P= 0.042). These results suggest that GPS technology can be used as a proxy tool in determining social relationships. GPS devices can aid in animal behavior research by eliminating the need for an observer and thereby relieving time and staff restraints. Planning the daily management of animals around their known social groups can potentially increase overall animal welfare and safety for caretakers. For example, keeping the animals in their known social groups could decrease stress and the potential for aggressive behavior during training, transport, shifting of individuals or groups between exhibits, and general husbandry. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Therrien S.C.,Western Illinois University | Therrien S.C.,University of Maryland University College | Thomas J.A.,Western Illinois University | Therrien R.E.,EcoSmart Research Institute | Stacey R.,Chicago Zoological Society Brookfield Zoo
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2012

This study investigated diel changes in ambient noise levels and the number of whistles produced by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois. Automated, continuous 24-h underwater recordings were made from 1 January to 31 March 2008. The number of whistles, types of whistles, and background noise level were examined for each hour. Nine distinct frequency contours were identified, named, and analyzed for minimum frequency, maximum frequency, peak frequency, and duration. Since all pumps and filters at the Seven Seas Exhibit of Brookfield Zoo were housed in a separate building isolated from the dolphins' pools, background noise was relatively low and consistent throughout the day (95 to 98 dB re: 1 μPa). However, when the zoo staff used a scrubber to clean the pool walls, the background noise was higher and fluctuated (up to 112 dB re: 1 μPa). The dolphins whistled significantly less during these scrubbing periods. The dolphins exhibited a distinct diel pattern in whistle production. Increased whistle production coincided with increased interactions with humans during feeding/training sessions; the number of whistles peaked in the late afternoon (~1600 h) and then quickly tapered off throughout the night. The investigation began with eight dolphins; however, the death of one young male and the transport of two adult males to another facility left five dolphins: two adult females and two juvenile females along with an unrelated young male. These changes provided an opportunity to explore how social change affected whistle production. After the two adult males were transported out of the facility, two of the distinct whistle types disappeared, suggesting that each of the two dolphins had a unique whistle type. The results of this investigation highlight the usefulness of passive recording for monitoring ambient noise, as well as for documenting the activity pattern and social interactions of captive bottlenose dolphins.

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