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Paignton, United Kingdom

Martin R.A.,University of Plymouth | Melfi V.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science | Year: 2016

As recorded in domestic nonhuman animals, regular interactions between animals in zoos and keepers and the resulting relationship formed (human–animal relationship [HAR]) are likely to influence the animals' behaviors with associated welfare consequences. HAR formation requires that zoo animals distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people. This ability was tested by comparing zoo animal behavioral responses to familiar (routine) keepers and unfamiliar keepers (participants in the “Keeper for the Day” program). Study subjects included 1 African elephant (Loxodonta Africana), 3 Rothschild's giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), 2 Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris), and 2 slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta). Different behavior was evident and observed as decreased avoidance behavior toward familiar keepers (t7 = 6.00, p <  .001). This finding suggests the zoo animals have a lower level of fear toward familiar keepers. Keeper familiarity did not significantly affect any other behavioral measure. This finding suggests that in the current study, unfamiliar keeper presence did not appear to have detrimental effects. Furthermore, unfamiliar keeper–animal interactions could provide an increased number of positive human–animal interactions and potentially enhance animal welfare. © 2016 Taylor & Francis Source

Bayley J.E.,Valcent Products EU Ltd. | Yu M.,Valcent Products EU Ltd. | Frediani K.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2011

Europe's first vertical farm is currently being piloted with VertiCropTM at Paignton Zoo in Devon. It is experimenting High Density Vertical Growing as a sustainable solution to feeding increasing urban populations in twenty-first century towns and cities. The technology comes at a time when alternative land uses, such as biofuel and fiber production, are competing with traditional food production for the available soil and water resource. While increasing pressure is being placed on the managers of land to adapt and contribute to the mitigation of climate change through less intensive resource management. VertiCrop™ (VC) is an integrated hydroponic approach that addresses the central issue of optimising resource use to grow crops near to where they are consumed, using the most advanced technology to ensure efficient crop production. Advanced irrigation equipment and a soilless culture removes the need for good agricultural land, while utilizing vertical space further reduces the area of land required to grow any crop. The pilot project grows 11,200 plants in a greenhouse of 100 m2, using a conveyor driven stacked growing system various micro greens, lettuce and salad mixes have been planted sequentially to provide a regular supply of fresh green leaves; with the primary focus of economic profitability, improved nutritional value and environmental enrichment to improve animal feeding regimes at the zoo. The potential of VC opens up the way for schools, hospitals and housing estates in cities and towns to grow their own vegetables, to reduce their carbon footprint and associated food miles. In the future, it will be possible to extend the research direction to include vertical cultivation of food, biofuels and medicinal crops, such as high market value pharmaceutical products. Source

Ward S.J.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park | Melfi V.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2013

Positive reinforcement training (hereafter known as training) has increasingly been adopted in zoos, to facilitate complex veterinary procedures without sedation or restraint and support husbandry requirements. However, empirical studies to establish the efficacy of training or investigate its impact on keeper-animal relationships are scarce; this was the topic of the current investigation. Study animals were classified as formally trained (FT) partially trained (PT) or untrained (UT). Eight black rhinoceros (2FT, 2PT & 4UT), twelve Sulawesi crested black macaques (4FT, 4PT & 4UT) and eleven Chapman zebra (4FT, 2PT & 5UT) were studied in 6 zoos across the UK and USA. Subtle cues and commands provided by keepers directed towards the animals were identified and the latency between these and the respective behavioural responses (cue-response) were recorded. Animal personalities were also assessed using trait ratings completed by keepers for each animal. Social species (zebra and macaques) responded quicker to cues than the solitary species (rhino; F2=13.716, p<0.001). FT animals responded quicker to keeper cues than PT and UT animals (F2,22= 6.131, p<0.01). There was no significant difference in the cue-response latencies according to personality traits (Z=-1.576, p>0.05). Data suggested that trained group living animals had reduced latencies when reacting to keeper's cues, regardless of their personality. If we consider short cue-response latencies to be indicative of low fear, then we suggest that training can potentially reduce animals' fear of humans thus could contribute to positive keeper-animal relationships which in turn could lead to improved animal welfare. © 2013. Source

Ward S.J.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park | Ward S.J.,Nottingham Trent University | Melfi V.,Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Stockmanship is a term used to describe the management of animals with a good stockperson someone who does this in a in a safe, effective, and low-stress manner for both the stock-keeper and animals involved. Although impacts of unfamiliar zoo visitors on animal behaviour have been extensively studied, the impact of stockmanship i.e familiar zoo keepers is a new area of research; which could reveal significant ramifications for zoo animal behaviour and welfare. It is likely that different relationships are formed dependant on the unique keeper-animal dyad (human-animal interaction, HAI). The aims of this study were to (1) investigate if unique keeper-animal dyads were formed in zoos, (2) determine whether keepers differed in their interactions towards animals regarding their attitude, animal knowledge and experience and (3) explore what factors affect keeper-animal dyads and ultimately influence animal behaviour and welfare. Eight black rhinoceros (Dicerosbicornis), eleven Chapman's zebra (Equus burchellii), and twelve Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra) were studied in 6 zoos across the UK and USA. Subtle cues and commands directed by keepers towards animals were identified. The animals latency to respond and the respective behavioural response (cue-response) was recorded per keeper-animal dyad (n = 93). A questionnaire was constructed following a five-point Likert Scale design to record keeper demographic information and assess the job satisfaction of keepers, their attitude towards the animals and their perceived relationship with them. There was a significant difference in the animals' latency to appropriately respond after cues and commands from different keepers, indicating unique keeper-animal dyads were formed. Stockmanship style was also different between keepers; two main components contributed equally towards this: "attitude towards the animals" and "knowledge and experience of the animals". In this novel study, data demonstrated unique dyads were formed between keepers and zoo animals, which influenced animal behaviour. © 2015 Ward, Melfi. 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. Source

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