Effects of visual contact with zoo visitors on black-capped capuchin welfare

Sherwen, Sally L., Harvey, Trista J., Magrath, Michael J.L., Butler, Kym L., Fanson, Kerry V. and Hemsworth, Paul H. 2015, Effects of visual contact with zoo visitors on black-capped capuchin welfare, Applied animal behaviour science, vol. 167, pp. 65-73, doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.03.004.

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Title Effects of visual contact with zoo visitors on black-capped capuchin welfare
Author(s) Sherwen, Sally L.
Harvey, Trista J.
Magrath, Michael J.L.
Butler, Kym L.
Fanson, Kerry V.ORCID iD for Fanson, Kerry V. orcid.org/0000-0001-9372-2018
Hemsworth, Paul H.
Journal name Applied animal behaviour science
Volume number 167
Start page 65
End page 73
Total pages 9
Publisher Elsevier
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publication date 2015-06
ISSN 0168-1591
Keyword(s) Human-animal interactions
Stress physiology
Visitor effect
Xoo welfare
Summary Previous research has suggested that the presence of zoo visitors may be stressful for various primate species, and visual contact with visitors may be the sensory stimuli that mediate visitor effects. We studied a group of black-capped capuchins, Cebus apella, in a controlled experiment, randomly imposing two treatments: customised one-way vision screens on the exhibit viewing windows to reduce visual contact with visitors; and unmodified viewing windows that allow full visual contact with visitors. We sampled capuchin behaviour including intra-group aggression and other social interactions, vigilance and abnormal behaviours. To provide a measure of physiological stress, we also analysed capuchin faecal samples for glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentration. When the view of visitors was obscured, we found marked reductions in capuchin aggression (from 14.5 bouts to 4.6 bouts per weekend, P= 0.004) and FGM concentration (from 620 to 410. ng/g, P= 0.008) among all adults, as well as reductions in abnormal behaviour (P = 0.01) in two individuals. The capuchins also avoided the visitor viewing area (P = 0.003) in the unmodified viewing window treatment. These results suggest that reducing the capuchins' ability to view visitors improved their welfare. However we also found a reduction in the number of visitors when visual contact was reduced (from an average of 23 visitors per scan to 15, P = 0.008), suggesting that the visitor experience may have been compromised by the lack of interaction with the capuchins. These results highlight a possible dilemma for the zoo industry between enhancing animal welfare in primates and providing for visitor experience.
Language eng
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.03.004
Field of Research 060603 Animal Physiology - Systems
060801 Animal Behaviour
0608 Zoology
0702 Animal Production
0707 Veterinary Sciences
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Elsevier
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30075381

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