The Effect of pack separation on social relationships and behaviour in captive African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus)
Keywords:African wild dog, social relationships, behaviour, welfare, captive management
African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are endangered carnivores with a population size that is currently estimated at 6.600 adults in the wild. The European Endangered Species Program (EEP) for African wild dogs aims to maintain a healthy zoo population that is sustainable on the long-term and thereby prevent extinction of the species. Safaripark Beekse Bergen is one of the zoos that participate in the African wild dog EEP and they faced some challenges in the captive management of their breeding pack by the death of the alpha-male. Nine male littermates were transferred to GaiaZOO in an attempt to restore the complex social structure and decrease the risk of inbreeding in the pack. This study evaluates this captive management decision by comparing the social relationships and behaviour in both zoos before and after pack separation. Changes in social relationships and behaviour imply that the remaining pack members in Safaripark Beekse Bergen formed a socially unstable pack after pack separation, while the nine male littermates formed a socially stable pack in GaiaZOO. Based on the results, recommendations are provided for further improving zoo animal management and the welfare of captive African wild dogs.
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