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Behavioural effects of a giraffe public feeding programme on Masai giraffe Giraffa tippelskirchi and plains zebra Equus quagga in a mixed-species exhibit 
(Koopman, Brinda & DiVincenti, 2023).

January 2023

The new issue of the JZAR brings fresh new research on the effects of a giraffe feeding programme on the behaviour of both the giraffes and zebras in the exhibit:
Keeper-collected data.
No negative behavioural effects detected on either species.
Individual differences in behaviour recorded: further research recommended.

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Zookeeper–Animal Bonds and Their Relationship with Conservation Action (Thomas et al., 2022).

January 2023

A study in JZBG surveyed 144 US-based zoo keepers to look for relationships between their perceived bonds with the animals in their care and their participation in conservation efforts:
Keepers that reported bonds with the animals were more likely to participate in some conservation actions, such as reduce personal wastage.
No association between keeper-animal bonds & participation in larger-scale conservation projects, such as habitat restoration.
Results can help informing zoos on how to promote behaviour change in both their visitors and staff.

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Behavioural patterns in zoo-housed Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) revealed using long-term keeper-collected data: Validation of approaches and improved husbandry (Goodenough, Sewell & McDonald, 2022).

January 2023

In our first post of 2023, here is an evidence-based reminder of how valuable keeper-collected data can be:
✔ Keeper-collected data on zoo-housed Humboldt penguins was validated by more intensive researcher-collected data.
✔ High agreement between data once "out of sight" was removed.
 Multi-year keeper data detected pronounced seasonal changes in behaviour.
✔ Reduced activity on days zoo was closed.
✔ Once validated, keeper-collected data can facilitate long-term behavioural monitoring of captive animals.

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Dither: A unifying model of the effects of visitor numbers on zoo animal behavior (Krebs, Eschmann & Watters, 2022).

September 2022

A new model of visitor effects on zoo animal behaviour has been described in a new paper in Zoo Biology:
 "Dither effect" suggested, with non-linear behavioural responses (i.e. changes in comfortable- & anxiety-related behaviours) to different visitor densities;
 Model tested on seven species with results supporting the dither effect.

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Members of the Pod: Do Marine Mammal Trainers Perceive a Bond with the Animals They Care For? (Welsh et al., 2022)

August 2022

A study in JZBG investigated the perceived bonds of marine mammal trainers with the bottlenose dolphins in their care:
Modified Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) used;

128 trainers from 35 collections completed survey;
Most trainers reported to have a bond with the animals in their care, though scores were higher for companion animals;
Higher scores in female than male trainers.

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Factors affecting the behavior of captive white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) and the accuracy of ad-hoc keeper data (Goodenough et al., 2022)

August 2022

The behaviour of zoo-housed white rhinoceros was studied in a paper published in Zoo Biology, with data collected by researchers & keepers:
Rhinos showed decreased activity in hot and sunny days;
Number of visitors had a negligible effect on behaviour (resting lower on busy days);
Overall match between researcher and keeper data, with differences in specific behaviours and periods of high visitor numbers.

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Zoo Closure Does Not Affect Behavior and Activity Patterns of Palawan Binturong (Arctictis binturong whitei)
(Finch et al., 2022)

August 2022

Is the behaviour of zoo-housed binturongs affected by zoo closures? A paper in JZBG investigated:
24-hour behavioural monitoring via CCTV system;
Time budget revealed crepuscular activity (natural in the species);
No differences between periods in den use, vigilance or travel behaviors;
Findings suggest neutral visitor effects on the species and highlights the advantages of investing in equipment for remote behavioural monitoring.

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Comparing Space Use and Fecal Glucocorticoid Concentrations during and after the COVID-19 Closure to Investigate Visitor Effects in Multiple Species 
(Edes et al., 2022)

July 2022

A study in JZBG investigated the effects of COVID-19 closures on the space use & glucocorticoid levels of multiple species:
 Glucocorticoid levels were not different between closure & reopening for any bears & were temporarily elevated in only two bantengs;
 After reopening: bantengs spent more time near visitors, polar bears spent more time near viewing areas & grizzly bears spent more time in outdoor area rather than the den;
 Gorillas: spent less time near visitors initially when zoo reopened, but effect disappeared with time;
 In general, results suggest neutral to positive visitor effects on these animals.

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The influence of welfare and bonds with animals on the job satisfaction of felid keepers in North America 
(DeSmet & Ogle, 2022)

January 2022

A study in Zoo Biology investigated the link between job satisfaction in zoo felid keepers, their bonds with animals & animal welfare:
✔ 121 felid keepers from AZA-accredited institutions;
 Direct link between job satisfaction & access to animal welfare training;
 Correlation between job satisfaction and fulfillment of the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare;
 Lower job satisfaction resulted in lower bond with nonfelids - but no link observed with felids...


Professional primate keepers and online primate imagery: an assessment of knowledge and attitudes (Daniels et al., 2021)

November 2021

New study in JZAR assessed primate keeper knowledge & attitudes towards sharing potentially-detrimental images online of themselves & primates (which the IUCN Primate Specialist Group Section for Human Primate Interactions advises against):

Of the 421 primate keepers that completed the questionnaire, over half (56%) reported to share such images;

Of the 128 images surveyed under #primatekeeper, 64% were of situations previously shown to be detrimental to primate conservation;

The majority of keepers were not aware of the IUCN PSG SHPI or their guidelines regarding the sharing of images.

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Furred and feathered friends: How attached are zookeepers to the animals in their care?(Melfi et al., 2021)

October 2021

A study in Zoo Biology investigated Keeper-Animal Relationships (KAR) in 187 zoo keepers in 19 institutions:

✔ Zoo Keepers reported higher attachment to their pets than the zoo animals in their care;

✔ No differences between zoo species;

Female keepers reported higher attachments to zoo animals than male keepers;

✔ Differences between institutions - "zoo culture" seems to influence KAR.

✔ Time spent with animals also significantly predicted KAR;

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Impacts of COVID-19 on Animals in Zoos: A Longitudinal Multi-Species Analysis (Williams et al., 2020)

March 2021

A paper in JZBG sought to investigate the impacts of zoo closures and re-openings (due to COVID-19) on the behaviour of several zoo-housed species:
 ✔ Variable behavioural changes across species;
 ✔ Most changes were non-significant;
 ✔ Grevy's zebras: > time in comfort behaviours & in public viewing-areas during closures;
 ✔ Chinese goral: > environmental interactions during closures;
✔ Some species may take longer to re-habituate to visitors.


Photo credit: RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

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The visitor effect in zoo-housed apes: the variable effect on behaviour of visitor number and noise (Hashmi & Sullivan, 2020)

October 2020

The visitor effects on zoo-housed apes (gorillas, chimpanzees and gibbons) were investigated in a study in JZAR:

 Noise levels increased with visitor numbers;

 Some behavioural changes suggested a potential negative effect on welfare;

 Intra- and inter-specific differences in reactions to the public;

 The visitor effect is complex and influenced by multiple factors.


Photo credit: Blackpool Zoo

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