Abstracts: Are observer ratings influenced by prescription? A comparison of Free Choice Profiling and Fixed List methods of Qualitative Behavioural Assessment

Qualitative methods of behavioural assessment use observer rating scales to score the overall demeanour or body language of animals. Establishing the reliability of such holistic approaches requires test and validation of the methods used. Here, we compare two methodologies used in Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA): Fixed-Lists (FL) and Free-Choice Profiling (FCP). A laboratory class of 27 . . . → Read More: Abstracts: Are observer ratings influenced by prescription? A comparison of Free Choice Profiling and Fixed List methods of Qualitative Behavioural Assessment

Abstracts: Impacts of visitor number on kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits

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. Continue reading Abstracts: Impacts of visitor number on kangaroos housed in free-range exhibits

Crisis? What Crisis?

 

Image: Thomas Lersch

Although their behaviour may not equate with some of the clichéd lifestyle changes associated with human midlife crises, a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests emotional highs and lows may also be an inherent characteristic in chimpanzees and orang-utans.

An international team that included scientists, zookeepers, and wildlife carers from the United States, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and the UK, used a four-item questionnaire, based on human subjective wellbeing measures but modified for use in non-human primates, to assess the level of contentment in 508 animals across a broad age range, and split into three groups. It was a decision made in a “burst of madness, since no study had ever been attempted,” according to economist Andrew Oswald from the UK’s University of Warwick, and a co-author of the report. He said the team was “just stunned” when results indicated the primates from all three groups showed evidence of experiencing a slump in wellbeing during their middle years.

The questions included measuring each animal’s moods, their enjoyment of social interaction, and success at achieving goals. Continue reading Crisis? What Crisis?

Brain gene expression differences are associated with abnormal tail biting behavior in pigs

Knowledge about gene expression in animals involved in abnormal behaviors can contribute to understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms. The present study aimed to explore the motivational background to tail biting, an abnormal injurious behavior and severe welfare problem in pig production. Affymetrix microarrays were used to investigate gene expression differences in the hypothalamus and prefrontal cortex . . . → Read More: Brain gene expression differences are associated with abnormal tail biting behavior in pigs

Outcry over new Victoria dog laws

Veterinary groups have been highly critical of Victorian laws which led to two dogs being euthanased.

The dogs, named Bear and Kooda, were destroyed in June under Victoria’s new dangerous dog laws following a legal battle to save them.

The dogs had not engaged in antisocial behaviour, but were put down after an officer from Moira Shire Council identified them as pitbull crosses, despite the owners’ claim that they were bred from a Staffordshire-ridgeback cross and a bull mastiff cross American bulldog.

Victoria toughened its dog laws following the fatal mauling of a toddler last year.

The legislation has procedures for councils on how to identify pitbulls based on indicators such as build and head profile.

The RSPCA, AVA and ASAVA have expressed concerns that new laws could punish responsible dog owners, who follow the law and have their pit bull or pit bull crosses registered, and let irresponsible owners slip under the radar. Continue reading Outcry over new Victoria dog laws