Before Harambe

Alexandra Liss

Presented as part of the 2019 USFSP Undergraduate Research Symposium held April 16, 2019.

Description

People have kept wild animals in captivity for thousands of years, dating back to 2500 BCE. Modern zoos became popular in the 18th century during the Enlightenment. This is when people started to research animal behavior and anatomy.

Zoos are often a topic of debate. On the plus side, they have breeding programs to preserve genetic diversity and propagate a species that is nearing extinction. Other projects at zoos include doing research on animal infection and disease. Further, the Humane Conservation program is led by worldwide renowned animal experts and devoted to verifying that animals in zoos are healthy, active, safe, positively social, and living under proper conditions.

On the other hand, animals face many challenges living in confinement. One main problem is the visitor effect. Having people watch the animal can negatively affect their welfare due to the unfamiliarity of their sounds, smells, and movements of human visitors. When stressed, the animal’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis is activated, releasing cortisol as part of the self-protection response. Some animals respond differently to humans than others. The jaguar and Indian guar ae two animals that have responded negatively to viewers by displaying abnormal, aggressive behaviors. When forced to live in a small, unstimulating environment many animals cope with stereotypic behavior. This is a repetitive behavior that serves no obvious purpose, like pacing or bar biting or hair plucking. These behaviors are called “zoochosis” which is a form pf psychosis caused in confinement. Zoos try to employ enrichment programs or use pharmaceuticals. In this study, I observed the behavior of ten different species when humans unexpectedly entered their enclosure

 

Before Harambe

People have kept wild animals in captivity for thousands of years, dating back to 2500 BCE. Modern zoos became popular in the 18th century during the Enlightenment. This is when people started to research animal behavior and anatomy.

Zoos are often a topic of debate. On the plus side, they have breeding programs to preserve genetic diversity and propagate a species that is nearing extinction. Other projects at zoos include doing research on animal infection and disease. Further, the Humane Conservation program is led by worldwide renowned animal experts and devoted to verifying that animals in zoos are healthy, active, safe, positively social, and living under proper conditions.

On the other hand, animals face many challenges living in confinement. One main problem is the visitor effect. Having people watch the animal can negatively affect their welfare due to the unfamiliarity of their sounds, smells, and movements of human visitors. When stressed, the animal’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis is activated, releasing cortisol as part of the self-protection response. Some animals respond differently to humans than others. The jaguar and Indian guar ae two animals that have responded negatively to viewers by displaying abnormal, aggressive behaviors. When forced to live in a small, unstimulating environment many animals cope with stereotypic behavior. This is a repetitive behavior that serves no obvious purpose, like pacing or bar biting or hair plucking. These behaviors are called “zoochosis” which is a form pf psychosis caused in confinement. Zoos try to employ enrichment programs or use pharmaceuticals. In this study, I observed the behavior of ten different species when humans unexpectedly entered their enclosure