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A multi-institutional assessment of factors influencing locomotion and pacing in captive okapis ( Okapia johnstoni)

By C. Bennett, L. Torgerson-White, D. Fripp, J. Watters, A. Petric

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Abstract

The okapi ( Okapia johnstoni), native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a large, solitary, and diurnal forest-dwelling ungulate highly sensitive to captive conditions. The captive population demonstrates persistent health problems, reproductive abnormalities, and several potentially abnormal repetitive behaviors. This study reports on locomotion and pacing in adult male and female okapis. Commonly, data on repetitive behavior have been derived from surveys. Although insightful, the results are often highly generalized and provide little information about the true preponderance and nature of such behavior in a population. In this study, direct observations determining how often and when a behavior of interest occurs are paired with information on factors (intrinsic and extrinsic) that can impact a nonhuman animal's propensity to perform repetitive behavior. More than half of the North American okapi population comprised the study population. Each animal was studied for 2 summer and winter seasons. Factors predictive of pacing in both males and females included 3 housing and habitat factors and 4 management factors. Patterns of locomotion and the rate and pattern of pacing in males when compared with females suggested different mechanisms may be driving these behaviors in the different sexes and that a sex-specific management strategy would benefit this species.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 18
Issue Suppl. 1
Pages S43-S61
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Language English
Author Address Dallas Zoo, Dallas, Texas, USA.benncynthia@aol.com
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Tags
  1. ACP Countries
  2. Africa
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Central African Republic
  7. Developing countries
  8. Females
  9. Gardens
  10. Giraffes
  11. Health
  12. Illnesses
  13. Least developed countries
  14. Locomotion
  15. Males
  16. Mammals
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Republic of the Congo
  19. Ruminants
  20. seasons
  21. summer
  22. surveys
  23. ungulates
  24. vertebrates
  25. Wild animals
  26. wildlife
  27. winter
  28. Zoo and captive wild animals
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed