The use of enrichment to simulate a natural environment has become increasingly important in the management of captive animals, especially in large exotic ungulates. Indicators of positive welfare in giraffes are behaviors that mimic those displayed in the wild. This study uses a randomly timed feeder in an exhibit for a herd of seven captive giraffes at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, California. I hypothesize that the feeder can be used to stimulate more naturalistic behaviors, where the giraffes continuously forage for food. The feeder would cause a decrease in the time spent standing and an increase in the usage of the exhibit. An ethogram was created for this herd of giraffes and a distribution of exhibit usage was complied. Two methods of observations were conducted before and after the feeder was put on exhibit. Approximately 90 minutes worth of observations were done on each giraffe, using an instantaneous scan sampling, to measure the amount of time spent standing. I used an all occurrences sampling to determine the distribution of the giraffes in the exhibit. While the feeder is up in exhibit, the giraffes are predicted to show more movement and activity, as well as show a larger distribution across the exhibit. However, the results showed that the feeder did not have an effect on the movement of the giraffes (2 tailed t-test, t(5), p=0.47), nor was there an effect on the exhibit usage. Using a Gini coefficient to determine the distribution across the exhibit, the average before the feeder was 0.67 and after was 0.64, though the results did not prove significant after statistically analyzing them (2 tailed t-test, t(5), p=0.27).
Keywords: Giraffe, Behavior, Enrichment, Exhibit usage, Animal Welfare
Author: Melinda Castillo
Journal: Not Specified