• Assessing the behaviour, welfare and husbandry of mouse deer (Tragulus spp.) in European zoos

      Lemos de Figueiredo, Ricardo; Hartley, Matthew; Fletcher, Alison W; University of Chester; Yorkshire Wildlife Park
      Mouse deer are primitive, forest ungulates found in Asia and Africa. Both the lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus) and the Philippine mouse deer (T. nigricans) are managed in European zoos, but inconsistent breeding success between institutions, high neonatal mortality and a general lack of research on their husbandry and behaviour were identified by the coordinators of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the European Studbook (ESB) for each species, respectively. This study is the first to provide a behavioural description for the Philippine mouse deer and to compile a detailed behavioural repertoire for both species. Our aim was to identify the effects of current husbandry and management practices on the reproduction, behaviour and welfare of zoo-housed mouse deer. Questionnaires on husbandry and management practices were sent to all institutions in the EEP and ESB for the lesser and Philippine mouse deer, respectively, and behavioural data were collected in 15 of these zoos. For the lesser mouse deer, results show a positive effect of vegetation cover on breeding success, foraging and moving behaviours. The provision of enrichment and presence of water ponds also positively affected these behaviours. The time that pairs spent in close proximity had a negative effect on breeding success, but animals in more vegetated enclosures spent less time in close proximity to each other. Results could be partially explained by the natural habitat of this usually solitary species being tropical forest, which provides local water sources and undergrowth for cover from predators. For the Philippine mouse deer there were differences in activity measures recorded between zoos, but the sample size was small with differences in training, enrichment and vegetation cover likely to have been important. In conclusion, since mouse deer inhabit overlapping male and female territories, the usual practice of housing breeding pairs together may be appropriate, but we suggest that they should be provided with opportunities to avoid each other in complex enclosures with ample vegetation cover to maximise their natural behavioural repertoire and breeding success.
    • Endocrinology and Behaviour: A stress-free approach to improving animal welfare

      Smith, Tessa E.; University of Chester (Society for Endocrinology, 2016-12-31)
      Following implementation of the UK Animal Procedures Scientific Act (1986) there has been a plethora of research combining endocrine titres with behavioural measures to address applied questions in the field of animal welfare science. The goal of these studies has been to measure and optimize animal welfare. An eloquent example is the reduced welfare observed in collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) as indicated by high glucocorticoid (GC) levels and negative judgment bias in behavioural tests. The latter is associated with space restriction but alleviated by the provision of enrichment. Good animal welfare is essential not only from an ethical standpoint but also to ensure valid scientific outcomes. Animals with good welfare produce more reliable, biologically valid, robust, repeatable scientific data compared to their counterparts with poorer welfare. ‘Happy’ animals live longer, can be used repeatedly and need replacing less often. This leads to a ‘reduction’ of animal use and satisfaction of one of the 3Rs: the guiding principles for the use of animals in research2.
    • ‘Regurgitation and reingestion’ (R/R) in great apes: A review of current knowledge

      Hill, Sonya, P.; University of Chester; University of Cambridge (Wiley, 2018-08-02)
      Research indicates that regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) is a relatively common behaviour in zoo-housed great apes, with most work to date carried out on Western lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla and Chimpanzees Pan troglodytes. It is an abnormal behaviour because great apes are not anatomically adapted to regurgitate their food as part of their normal feeding processes, and because this behaviour is not seen in members of the species living freely in the wild, in conditions that would allow a full behavioural range. In this article, I give an overview of the published literature on R/R in great apes, which suggests that this behaviour is probably multifactorial and may be linked to inappropriate feeding environments (e.g. in terms of nutritional composition of the diet and/or presentation of food), and possibly also social and other factors as well. A similar behaviour to R/R, known as rumination disorder, can also occur in another great ape species, humans, in whom it is classified as a feeding and eating disorder, and there are potential consequences to people’s physical health as a result of oral acid. There have been no known studies to date to identify whether or not similar health consequences can occur in non-human great apes, but the regurgitant has been found to be significantly more acidic in gorillas than the food they ingested originally, meaning it is potentially injurious in non-human great apes. There is much that is not yet known about this behaviour and how to reduce or eliminate it when it does occur, as the research indicates that there are a range of factors involved, and these can vary by individual animal. More research into this behaviour is clearly needed to ensure that zoos and sanctuaries are providing the best possible care for these animals, and I make some suggestions for future research directions.
    • Social Experience of Captive Livingstone’s Fruit Bats (Pteropus livingstonii)

      Stanley, Christina R; Smith, Tessa; Welch, Morgan J; Hosie, Charlotte; Wormell, Dominic; Price, Eluned; University of Chester; Jersey Zoo (MDPI, 2020-07-30)
      Social network analysis has been highlighted as a powerful tool to enhance the evidence-based management of captive-housed species through its ability to quantify the social experience of individuals. We apply this technique to explore the social structure and social roles of 50 Livingstone’s fruit bats (Pteropus livingstonii) housed at Jersey Zoo, Channel Islands, through the observation of associative, affiliative, and aggressive interactions over two data collection periods. We implement binomial mixture modelling and characteristic-based assortment quantification to describe the complexity and organisation of social networks, as well as a multiple regression quadratic assignment procedural (MRQAP) test to analyse the relationship between network types. We examine the effects of individual characteristics (i.e., sex, age, and dominance rank) on social role by fitting models to explain the magnitude of node metrics. Additionally, we utilize a quadratic assignment procedural (QAP) test to assess the temporal stability of social roles over two seasons. Our results indicate that P. livingstonii display a non-random network structure. Observed social networks are positively assorted by age, as well as dominance rank. The frequency of association between individuals correlates with a higher frequency of behavioural interactions, both affiliative and aggressive. Individual social roles remain consistent over ten months. We recommend that, to improve welfare and captive breeding success, relationships between individuals of similar ages and dominance levels should be allowed to persist in this group where possible, and separating individuals that interact frequently in an affiliative context should be avoided.