Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis feeding: How stereotypies and other behaviours changed at Kolmårdens djurpark in Sweden
Keywords:breed and cull, giraffe, enrichment, reproduction, slow-feeder
Kolmården djurpark keeps one of the most northern living giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis groups in the world, and this comes with its challenges. For a long part of the year, the outside temperature is too cold for giraffes, resulting in extended periods spent indoors, combined with a shorter duration of trees bearing leaves than further south. In an attempt to reduce the stereotypical behaviours of Kolmården’ giraffes, the effect of giving 70% of feed in slow-feeding barrels was compared with providing 100% of the feed in slow-feeding barrels. The results show a significant increase in feeding behaviours for most of the individuals along with a reduction in stereotypical behaviours. At the same time there was an increase in activity during the night. Kolmården djurpark practices a ‘breed and cull’ regime for the giraffe group. One of the reasons to do so is for the welfare of the animals. To investigate this, one female was studied before and after giving birth, along with one control animal. The results show a reduction in stereotypical behaviours, suggesting that the mother’s welfare increased. Forcing zoo herbivores to ‘work’ for all of their feed, rather than just adding some enrichment diets for occupation alongside an otherwise easily accessible diet, and permitting natural reproductive behaviours, may be two strategies to improve welfare that should be considered and further investigated.
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