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A method to evaluate environmental enrichments for Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in zoos
Linköping University, The Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
2007 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (professional degree), 40 points / 60 hpStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Environmental enrichment (EE) is used to improve the life of captive animals by giving them more opportunities to express species-specific behaviours. Zoo elephants are one of the species that is in great need of EE because their environment is often barren. Before making EE permanent, however, it is wise to test first if it works as intended, to save time and money. Maximum price paid is one measure that can be used to assess if an animal has any interest in a resource at all. Food is often used as a comparator against EEs in these kinds of studies. The aim was to investigate if the maximum price paid concept could be used to measure the value of EEs for the two female Asian elephants at Kolmården and to find an operant test suitable for them for the experimental trials. Three series of food trials were done with each elephant, where they had to lift weights by pulling a rope with their mouth to get access to 5kg hay. The elephants paid a maximum price of 372 and 227kg, respectively. However, the maximum price the elephants paid for access to the hay was not stable across the three series of trials. Hence it is recommended that the comparator trials are repeated close in time to the EEs to be tested. The readiness by which these elephants performed the task makes it worthwhile to further pursue this approach as one of the means to improve the well-being of zoo elephants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Institutionen för fysik, kemi och biologi , 2007. , 20 p.
Keyword [en]
Comparator, food, maximum price paid, motivation
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-11902ISRN: LiTH-IFM-Ex--07/1769--SEOAI: diva2:18294
2007-06-01, Planck, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:00
Available from: 2008-05-23 Created: 2008-05-23

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