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Orlando, Florida, United States

Valuska A.J.,Science Operations | Leighty K.A.,Science Operations | Plasse C.,Animal Operations | Schutz P.,Animal Operations | And 3 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2015

Taveta golden weavers are popular in zoos, but little has been published on their reproduction, social behavior, or other aspects of their management. At Disney's Animal Kingdom®, we have had great success with our breeding program and house a large flock in our mixed-species walk-through Africa aviary and smaller groups in the off-exhibit Avian Research Center. We conducted observations on both groups in order to document behavioral differences between the groups living under differing management conditions. Data on which individuals were inside, on or near focal nests were collected using a 30-s scan samples. Scan data were analyzed using a two-factor ANOVA, with aviary location and nest contents as the factors. We found that, in both aviary locations, females spent more time inside and on the nests than males did. As expected, females spent more time inside the nests containing eggs and more time on the nests containing chicks, likely due to incubation and chick-feeding demands, respectively. Interestingly, we found that females spent significantly more time inside their nests and males spent more time near their nests in the Africa aviary than in ARC. Despite Africa aviary's higher nest attendance, a higher proportion of nests fledged chicks in ARC (72% vs. 41%). These data are consistent with findings in wild sociable weavers [Spottiswoode, 2007. Oecologia 154: 589-600]. Future work with zoo-housed populations of weavers could help shed light on this phenomenon, which is not yet well understood. A better understanding of the consequences of different group sizes and housing conditions could have important implications for how Taveta weavers are managed. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Valuska A.J.,Science Operations | Leighty K.A.,Science Operations | Ferrie G.M.,Science Operations | Grand A.P.,Science Operations | And 3 more authors.
Zoo Biology | Year: 2014

The reduction of aggressive behaviors can be a concern whenever animals are socially housed, but for some species, such as marabou storks, zoos are still unsure of the best management strategies. To learn more about marabou behavior and how dynamics change as group composition changes, we monitored a total of 3.5 marabous as individuals were added and removed over 2 years. We found that, in mixed-sex groups, males were more likely to be the initiators of displacements and females were more likely to be the recipients. Most contact aggression was intra-sexual, and females engaged in contact aggression more often than males. The highest levels of aggression were seen in our all-female groups, which was unexpected given the high number of male attacks on females reported in zoos. Because females were being added and removed but our males remained the same throughout the study, we are unsure whether this was due to a higher level of instability among females or a true sex difference; regardless, these data highlight the need to monitor aggression even within all female stork groups. Overall, we observed low levels of inter-sexual aggression, suggesting that some fatal attacks may be due, in part, to non-social factors, such as enclosure design. Social birds like marabous may benefit from the same type of group management approach that is commonly utilized with other social taxa. A two-pronged approach of observation and management of marabou social dynamics and some modification of their enclosure structure may limit injurious aggression in the future. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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