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Program animal welfare: using behavioral and physiological measures to assess the well-being of animals used for education programs in zoos

By Bonnie A. Baird, Christopher W. Kuhar, Kristen E. Lukas, Laura A. Amendolagine, Grace A. Fuller, James Nemet, Mark A. Willis, Mandi W. Schook

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This study investigates program animal welfare using both behavioral and physiological measures in two separate experiments. In Experiment One, we examined possible differences in behavior and fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) between education, exhibit and off-exhibit armadillos ( N=59) housed at 17 Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos. In Experiment Two, the specific effect of handling for education programs was investigated in an ABA study design using the same measures of welfare in armadillos ( N=10), hedgehogs ( N=12), and red-tailed hawks ( N=6) at 11 AZA institutions. Mixed model analysis revealed FGM and undesirable behaviors did not differ between groups in Experiment One (FGM [g/g feces]: Median[Interquartile Range] education: 28.49[21.05-42.29], exhibit: 30.38[26.33-42.56], off-exhibit: 28.2[23.92-47]; F2, 46=0.55, p=0.58; undesirable behavior: Least Squares Mean% of time [SEM]: education: 24.95[14.52], exhibit: 9.09[4.16]; F1, 17=1.86, p=0.19). There was also no effect of handling specifically for education programs on measures of welfare in Experiment Two ( p>0.05 in all FGM and undesirable behavior models). However, the overall amount of handling that an animal experienced (for programs or for husbandry) was positively correlated with FGM in Experiment One (F1, 979=9.35, p=0.002) and in all species in Experiment Two (armadillos: F1, 286=5.69, p=0.02; hedgehogs: F1, 448=4.92, p=0.03; hawks: F1, 215=4.68, p=0.03). Amount of handling was also associated with several behaviors (undesirable, rest, and self-directed behavior) in both experiments ( p

Date 2016
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 176
Pages 150-162
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.12.004
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animals in education
  2. Animal welfare
  3. armadillo
  4. Glucocorticoids
  5. Handling