Analyses of captive behaviour and enclosure use in Rothschild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) housed at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park ®

Sarah Garry

Abstract


It has been suggested that wild herbivorous animals, like the Rothschild Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), are difficult to house in captivity due to their natural wide home range and specialised diet. The aim of this study was to understand what influence the design of the giraffe enclosure at Paignton Zoo has on the activity budget of the Rothschild Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) housed in it, in relation to enclosure use and the performance of a natural behavioural repertoire. This was achieved by observing the giraffe’s behaviour and location when in the enclosure, both indoors and outdoors. The Spread of Participation Index and Chi Squared (goodness of fit) tests were used to determine the degree of spatial selectivity and to help elucidate the degree to which the giraffes made efficient use of their enclosures; the chi squared (goodness of fit) was additionally used to analyse the exhibition of behaviour. Subsequent analyses and standardised residuals of the data revealed that the subjects did not use their outdoor enclosure evenly, as some areas which provided resources were used significantly more than others: Tonda (X2=1495.31; D.F. =5, P< 0.001); Sangha (X2=769.975; D.F. =5; P< 0.001); Janica (X2=1737.45; D.F. =5; P< 0.001); Yoda (X2=1660.91; D.F. =5; P< 0.001). The data from the indoor enclosure also showed significant individual differences between enclosure section preference: Tonda (X2=636.853; D.F. =13; P< 0.001); Sangha (X2=1707.11; D.F. =18; P< 0.001) Janica (X2=1531; D.F. 18; P< 0.001). Similarly, subsequent analyses and standardised residuals showed that some behaviours were exhibited significantly more or less than others in both the outdoor and indoor enclosures; whereas others were not used to an extent that differed significantly from expected values. Outdoor results: Tonda (X2 = 3929.62; DF = 18; P < 0.001); Sangha (X2=3961.49; D.F. =19; P< 0.001); Janica = (X2=3860.35; D.F. =18; P< 0.001); Yoda (X2=4332.84; D.F. =19; P< 0.001). Indoor results: Tonda (X2=636.853; D.F. =13; P< 0.001); Sangha (X2=1707.11; D.F. =18; P< 0.001); Janica (X2=1531.42; D.F. =16; P< 0.001); Yoda (X2=1236.64; D.F. =11; P< 0.001). The study suggests that enclosure design has a profound influence on the behavioural activity budget and enclosure use of the giraffes housed in it. It is suggested that enclosure use could be improved by provision of more feeding enrichment around the enclosure.   

Key Words: Giraffe; Enclosure Use; Behaviour; Stereotypic, Enrichment; Welfare.  


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