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What do population-level welfare indices suggest about the well-being of zoo elephants?

Show simple item record Mason, G.J. Veasey, J. 2012-12-19T20:05:29Z 2012-12-19T20:05:29Z 2010
dc.description.abstract To assess zoo elephants’ welfare using objective population-level indices, we sought data from zoos and other protected populations (potential "benchmarks") on variables affected by poor well-being. Such data were available on fecundity, potential fertility, stillbirths, infant mortality, adult survivorship, and stereotypic behavior. Most of these can also be affected by factors unrelated to well-being; therefore, for each, we analyzed the potential role of these other factors. Population-level comparisons generally indicate poor reproduction, and poor infant and adult survivorship in zoos compared with benchmark populations (with some differences between zoo regions and over time). Stereotypic behavior also occurs in c. 60% of zoo elephants; as the population-level welfare index least open to alternative interpretations, this represents the strongest evidence that well-being is/has been widely compromised. Poor well-being is a parsimonious explanation for the diverse range of population-level effects seen, but to test this hypothesis properly, data are now needed on, for example, potential confounds that can affect these indices (to partition out effects of factors unrelated to well-being), and causes of the observed temporal effects, and differences between species and zoo regions. Regardless of whether such additional data implicate poor well-being, our findings suggest that elephant management has generally been sub-optimal. We also discuss the selection and utilization of benchmark data, as a useful future approach for evaluating such issues. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Zoo biology en_US
dc.subject stress en_US
dc.subject captivity en_US
dc.subject stereotypic behavior en_US
dc.subject longevity en_US
dc.subject acyclicity en_US
dc.title What do population-level welfare indices suggest about the well-being of zoo elephants? en_US
dc.type Article en_US
dc.contributor.affiliation Department of Animal and Poultry Science
dc.rights.license All items in the Atrium are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dcterms.relation G. J. Mason & J. Veasey (2010). What do population-level welfare indices suggest about the well-being of zoo elephants? Zoo Biology 29: 256-273.

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