Impact of an enclosure rotation on the activity budgets of two zoo-housed giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): An observational case study

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ISSN: 2205-0612
eISSN: 2206-5369

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VOLUME 1 , ISSUE 1 (December 2016) > List of articles

Impact of an enclosure rotation on the activity budgets of two zoo-housed giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca): An observational case study

Jillian Claire Ryan * / Carla A Litchfield

Keywords : Giant pandas; enclosure rotation; exhibit use; activity budget; enrichment

Citation Information : Eat, Sleep, Work. Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 26-38, DOI: https://doi.org/10.21913/JDRSSesw.v1i1.1200

License : (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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ABSTRACT

Captive giant pandas are reported in the literature to perform stereotypic behaviours which are considered to be a behavioural indicator of stress. Although environmental enrichment techniques are commonly used to prevent and/or mitigate performance of stereotypic behaviour in captive giant pandas, evaluation of such techniques is rarely undertaken or reported. This study used behavioural observation methodologies to evaluate the impact of an enclosure rotation as enrichment on the activity budgets of two captive giant pandas, Funi and Wang Wang, housed at the Adelaide Zoo in South Australia. Instantaneous time sampling methods were used to record the giant pandas’ behaviour and location in each enclosure at 180-second intervals over a total of 180 hours (132 baseline hours, 48 post-intervention hours). Following the enclosure rotation, Funi demonstrated a reduction in performance of stereotypic pacing (from 11% of scans at baseline to 4% of scans post-intervention), as well as a notable decrease in frequency of performance of stereotypic somersaults with this aberrant behaviour ceasing completely on the 8th day of data collection post-enclosure rotation. Whilst Wang Wang’s performance of stereotypic pacing remained comparably stable across the study period (about 6 – 7% of scans), the enclosure rotation led to a marked increase in sexual communication behaviours and moderate increases in overall activity. Findings from this case study indicate that enclosure rotations may be an effective behavioural enrichment technique for reducing performance of stereotypic behaviours and increasing behavioural repertoire and activity in zoo-housed giant pandas.

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