Whilst its all well and good getting you the brand spanking new papers… what about the gazzilion that have gone before that you might of missed?
Here are 5 papers from the recent past to feast on while we putting together this months peer reviewed papers. Enjoy 🙂
Auditory stimulation has long been employed as a form of therapy for humans and animals housed in institutions. Its effect on one of our closest-living relatives, the gorilla, however, is largely unknown. This study explored the effect of auditory stimulation on the behaviour and welfare of six gorillas housed in Belfast Zoo. All animals were exposed to three conditions of auditory stimulation: a control (no auditory stimulation), an ecologically relevant condition (rainforest sounds) and an ecologically non-relevant condition (classical music). The gorillas’ behaviour was recorded in each condition using a scan-sampling technique. There was no significant effect of the auditory environment on the gorillas’ behaviour, although animals tended to show more behaviours suggestive of relaxation (i.e. resting, sitting) and fewer behaviours typically associated with stress (i.e. aggression, abnormal behaviour) during the ecologically relevant, and, in particular, the non-relevant, conditions than the control. Overall, findings suggest that certain types of auditory stimulation may hold some merit as a method of enrichment for zoo-housed gorillas, although more long-term work with a larger number of animals is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
Differences were shown to exist between the behaviour of wild and captive giraffe. However, only the duration of lying differed significantly across zoos. Correlations demonstrated that both enclosure size and feed restriction affected the locomotor activity of giraffe. An attempt to quantify observer influence upon the behaviour of wild giraffe was made. Different
methods of observation were shown to significantly affect the time budget established. The extent to which wild giraffe behaviour can be used as a welfare indicator for captive conspecifics is discussed, as are the problems inherent in such a study. The difficulties in
constructing an alternative welfare measure using prevalence to veterinary problems, are briefly considered. Methods by which captive giraffe welfare can be improved are discussed, particularly concerning the provision of browse to allow more natural feeding patterns to be established.
The study of environmental enrichment has identified a variety of effective forms of enrichment, but there are widespread problems associated with their use. Few forms of enrichment are cognitively challenging, and even the most effective often result in rapid habituation. This study examined the use of a computer–joystick system, designed to increase in complexity with learning, as a potential form of enrichment. Eight orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), housed in male/female pairs, were observed for 120 h during a baseline period and 120 h when the computer–joystick apparatus was available. Data were collected in 1 h sessions using instantaneous group scan sampling with 30 s intervals. The orangutans spent 25.9% of the scans using the joystick system. One member of each pair monopolised the computer system: ‘high users’ spent 48.9% of scans using the joystick system compared with 2.9% by ‘low users’. Behavioural changes associated with the provision of the computer included increases in aggressive behaviour, anxiety-related behaviours, solitary play, contact with and proximity to a social partner, and decreases in feeding. The lack of habituation by the high users, both within and across sessions, indicates that computer-assisted tasks may be a useful form of environmental enrichment for orangutans. However, the significant increase in aggression indicates that this form of enrichment may be more suitable for singly caged animals, or that the provision of multiple apparatuses should be tested for the ability to eliminate potential competition over the device.