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Emotional States of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) Kept for Animal-Visitor Interactions, as Perceived by People Differing in Age and Knowledge of the Species

By I. Pollastri, S. Normando, B. Contiero, G. Vogt, D. Gelli, V. Sergi, E. Stagni, S. Hensman, E. Mercugliano, B. de Mori

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

This study aimed to investigate how three groups of people of differing ages, and with differing knowledge of the species, perceived the emotional state of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) managed in captive and semi-captive environments. Fifteen video-clips of 18 elephants, observed during three different daily routines (release from and return to the night boma; interactions with visitors), were used for a free choice profiling assessment (FCP) and then analyzed with quantitative methods. A general Procrustes analysis identified two main descriptive dimensions of elephant behavioral expression explaining 27% and 19% of the variability in the children group, 19% and 23.7% in adults, and 21.8% and 17% in the expert group. All the descriptors the observers came up with showed a low level of correlation on the identified dimensions. All three observers' groups showed a degree of separation between captive and semi-captive management. Spearman analyses showed that stereotypic "trunk swirling" behavior correlated negatively with first dimension (free/friendly versus sad/bored) in the children's group; second dimension (agitated/confident versus angry/bored) amongst the adults; and first dimension (active/excited versus agitated/bored) amongst the experts. More studies are needed to investigate other potential differences in assessing elephants' emotional states by visitors of different ages and backgrounds.

Date 2021
Publication Title Animals (Basel)
Volume 11
Issue 3
Pages 21
ISBN/ISSN 2076-2615 (Print)2076-2615
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani11030826
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/3/826
Language English
Author Address Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padua, viale dell'Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, Italy.Ethics Laboratory for Veterinary Medicine, Conservation, and Animal Welfare, University of Padua, viale dell'Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, Italy.Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, University of Padua, viale dell'Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, Italy.Conservation Guardians, Shongweni Nature Reserve, Outer West, Kwa Zulu Natal 3610, South Africa.School of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, viale dell'Università 16, Agripolis, 35020 Legnaro, Italy.Independent Researcher, Via Ranzani 17, 40127 Bologna, Italy.Adventures with Elephants, Bela Bela, Limpopo 0480, South Africa.
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Analysis
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Assessment
  4. Elephants
  5. Human-animal interactions
  6. open access
  7. welfare
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  1. open access