Impacts of visitor number on Kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits

Sherwen, Sally L., Hemsworth, Paul H., Butler, Kym L., Fanson, Kerry V. and Magrath, Michael J.L. 2015, Impacts of visitor number on Kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits, Zoo biology, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 287-295, doi: 10.1002/zoo.21226.

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Title Impacts of visitor number on Kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits
Author(s) Sherwen, Sally L.
Hemsworth, Paul H.
Butler, Kym L.
Fanson, Kerry V.ORCID iD for Fanson, Kerry V.
Magrath, Michael J.L.
Journal name Zoo biology
Volume number 34
Issue number 4
Start page 287
End page 295
Total pages 9
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication Weinheim, Germany
Publication date 2015-07
ISSN 1098-2361
Keyword(s) animal behaviour
free-range exhibits
visitor effects
Summary Free range exhibits are becoming increasingly popular in zoos as a means to enhance interaction between visitors and animals. However very little research exists on the impacts of visitors on animal behaviour and stress in free range exhibits. We investigated the effects of visitor number on the behaviour and stress physiology of Kangaroo Island (KI) Kangaroos, Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus, and Red Kangaroos, Macropus rufus, housed in two free range exhibits in Australian zoos. Behavioural observations were conducted on individual kangaroos at each site using instantaneous scan sampling to record activity (e.g., vigilance, foraging, resting) and distance from the visitor pathway. Individually identifiable faecal samples were collected at the end of each study day and analysed for faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentration. When visitor number increased, both KI Kangaroos and Red Kangaroos increased the time spent engaged in visitor-directed vigilance and KI Kangaroos also increased the time spent engaged in locomotion and decreased the time spent resting. There was no effect of visitor number on the distance kangaroos positioned themselves from the visitor pathway or FGM concentration in either species. While there are limitations in interpreting these results in terms of fear of visitors, there was no evidence of adverse effects animal welfare in these study groups based on avoidance behaviour or stress physiology under the range of visitor numbers that we studied.
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/zoo.21226
Field of Research 060801 Animal Behaviour
060603 Animal Physiology - Systems
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
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