2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Science

The Effects of Social Enrichment on the Behaviors of Captive Elephants
Theresa M. Larson
Dr. Scott Burt, Faculty Mentor

Captive elephants are generally separated into female groups and males are isolated for the safety of the elephants and keepers. Social enrichment allows contract among individuals to provide mental and physical activity that is critical for zoo elephant wellbeing. Elephants that lack enrichment show signs of stress in the form of health problems and stereotypic behavior such as pacing and swaying. During an internship at the Oregon Zoo, I observed and recorded the effects of social enrichment on one male and two female elephants. The goals of the project were to reduce stereotypy and to increase the activity levels of the elephants. I observed the elephants for 60 minutes twice weekly and three total data hours were collected on four main categories of behaviors (gross, investigation, social, and neighbor proximity). Preliminary results suggest that social enrichment will improve the quality of life in captivity for elephants.

Keywords: Animal Behavior, Captive Elephants, Social Enrichment, stereotypic behavior

Topic(s):Biology

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 55-5
Location: VH 1432
Time: 4:45

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