Presentation Title

The Behavioral Effects of Browse on Zoo-Managed African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Presenter Information

Brooklyn SmithFollow

Advisor Information

Dr. James A. Wilson

Location

MBSC Omaha Room 304 - G

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

4-3-2022 9:00 AM

End Date

4-3-2022 10:15 AM

Abstract

Chronic stress in zoo elephants can result in undesirable behavioral consequences, lower reproduction rates, and decreases in their wellbeing. Providing browse to elephants can help simulate a more naturalistic environment, which may buffer potential stressors and promote species-typical behaviors. This study observes the behavioral effects from browse (i.e. woody material; foliage) on six zoo-managed African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZ). Behavioral data was collected across six months (50 observational periods), using 2-minute interval scan sampling methods. Logistic regression analyses showed that the presence of browse promoted more naturalistic foraging patterns and significantly reduced stereotypic behavior in zoo-managed elephants, which may indicate that offering browse in captive settings can buffer stressors. The presence of browse was also found to significantly decrease the elephant’s active, social, and resting behaviors, likely as a result from the increased feeding that occurred when browse was provided. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of providing browse to zoo-managed elephants and should continue to be explored in order to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness that browse has at buffering stressors in captive environments.

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Mar 4th, 9:00 AM Mar 4th, 10:15 AM

The Behavioral Effects of Browse on Zoo-Managed African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

MBSC Omaha Room 304 - G

Chronic stress in zoo elephants can result in undesirable behavioral consequences, lower reproduction rates, and decreases in their wellbeing. Providing browse to elephants can help simulate a more naturalistic environment, which may buffer potential stressors and promote species-typical behaviors. This study observes the behavioral effects from browse (i.e. woody material; foliage) on six zoo-managed African elephants (Loxodonta africana) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZ). Behavioral data was collected across six months (50 observational periods), using 2-minute interval scan sampling methods. Logistic regression analyses showed that the presence of browse promoted more naturalistic foraging patterns and significantly reduced stereotypic behavior in zoo-managed elephants, which may indicate that offering browse in captive settings can buffer stressors. The presence of browse was also found to significantly decrease the elephant’s active, social, and resting behaviors, likely as a result from the increased feeding that occurred when browse was provided. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of providing browse to zoo-managed elephants and should continue to be explored in order to gain a better understanding of the effectiveness that browse has at buffering stressors in captive environments.