ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202210.0444.v1
Subject: Biology, Animal Sciences & Zoology Keywords: reptile; tortoise; welfare; diversity index; behaviour; enrichment; ethogram
Online: 28 October 2022 (08:28:08 CEST)
Reptile behaviour and welfare are understudied in comparison with mammals. In this study, behavioural data on three species of tortoises were recorded before and after an environmental change which was anticipated to be positive in nature. The environmental changes differed for each population, but included a substantial increase in enclosure size, the addition of substrate material, and a change in handling procedure. A tortoise-specific ethogram was created to standardise data collection. Focal behaviour sampling was used to collect behavioural data. Changes in the duration of performance of co-occupant interaction and object interaction in the leopard (Stigmochelys pardalis) and Aldabra (Aldabrachelys gigantea) tortoises were observed following the environmental changes. The Shannon-Weiner’s diversity index did not yield a significant increase after the changes but had a numerical increase which was relatively greater for the leopard tortoise group, which had experienced the greatest environmental change. The leopard tortoises also demonstrated changes in a greater number of behaviours compared to the other species, and this was sustained over the study period. However, this included a behaviour indicative of negative affect; aggression. Whilst we are unable to conclude that welfare was improved by the management changes, there are suggestions that behavioural diversity increased, and some promotion of positive social behaviours occurred.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202112.0027.v2
Subject: Biology, Animal Sciences & Zoology Keywords: Zoo animal welfare; Five Domains; Validity; Animal-based; Resource-based; Scoring
Online: 22 December 2021 (11:59:32 CET)
Zoos are increasingly putting in place formalized animal welfare assessment programs to allow monitoring of welfare over time, as well as to aid in resource prioritization. These programs tend to rely on assessment tools that incorporate resource-based and observational animal- focused measures since it is rarely feasible to obtain measures of physiology in zoo-housed animals. A range of assessment tools are available which commonly have a basis in the Five Domains framework. A comprehensive review of the literature was conducted to bring together recent studies examining welfare assessment methods in zoo animals. A summary of these methods is provided with advantages and limitations of the approach es presented. We then highlight practical considerations with respect to implementation of these tools into practice, for example scoring schemes, weighting of criteria, and innate animal factors for consideration. It is concluded that would be value in standardizing guidelines for development of welfare assessment tools since zoo accreditation bodies rarely prescribe these. There is also a need to develop taxon or species- specific assessment tools to inform welfare management.