enzh-TWfrderues

Zoos


A Col­lec­tion of News by Moos


201612May19:34

New enclo­sure design tool cre­ated for UK zoos help­ing chimps behave naturally

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 12 May 2016 | mod­i­fied 12 May 2016
Archived

Chimpanzee at Twycross ZooUni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham sci­en­tists have devel­oped a new way to redesign chim­panzee enclo­sures. It trans­lates research on wild chim­panzees into zoos’ facil­i­ties to help pre­serve the behav­ioural and phys­i­o­log­i­cal adap­ta­tions that make the species unique.

The researchers, work­ing with Twycross Zoo and the British and Irish Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums (BIAZA), have devised a new Enclo­sure Design Tool to keep the chim­panzees phys­i­cally and men­tally active and socially inter­ac­tive, in a bid to ensure their behav­iour emu­lates chim­panzee behav­iour in the wild. This will help show how wild chimps really behave, enhance their wel­fare and improve their chance of sur­vival in the wild, should rein­tro­duc­tion of future gen­er­a­tions ever be required.

Chimps’ behav­iour in cap­tiv­ity can be very dif­fer­ent to the behav­iour they exhibit in the wild where their envi­ron­ment can be unpre­dictable due to its com­plex­ity. For exam­ple, a threat from preda­tors or chang­ing habi­tat due to for­est growth and decay influ­ences the envi­ron­ment. In addi­tion, in zoos, chimps can also be more seden­tary, and, there­fore much like humans, prone to obe­sity and other illnesses.

The Birmingham-​led team have cre­ated the enclo­sure design tool to give UK zoos easy access to research data on wild chim­panzees, and a web-​based pro­gramme that uses this data to guide intro­duc­tion of new fea­tures to chimp enclo­sures that emu­late the mechan­i­cal behav­iour of the for­est canopy and the phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive chal­lenges this poses to wild chimpanzees.

For exam­ple, the team has intro­duced a net­work of inter­con­nected straps and nets at Twycross Zoo, from the top to the bot­tom of the chimp enclo­sure, which con­tains the chimps’ bed­ding mate­r­ial and from which for­ag­ing pock­ets hang, con­tain­ing their food. The move­ment of the net­work of these sup­ports changes depend­ing on how many of the chimps are using them and what they are doing, mak­ing their habi­tat unpre­dictable and more chal­leng­ing to move around. The chimps have to arm-​hang from mul­ti­ple flex­i­ble straps and duck, dive and bend in dif­fer­ent ways, using move­ments which will build a more nat­ural, wild-​type musculo-​skeletal system.

These enclo­sure changes are designed to mimic the wild envi­ron­ment encour­ag­ing the ani­mals to become more ‘arbo­real’ and move around using more nat­ural behaviours.


(Source: Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham YouTube channel)

Our project is about ensur­ing that future gen­er­a­tions of chimps grow up in a com­plex and dynamic envi­ron­ment that is going to bring out these fea­tures to enhance their wel­fare, show the pub­lic how wild chimps really behave and improve their chance of sur­vival in the wild, should it ever be required
Dr Susan­nah Thorpe, School of Bio­sciences, Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham, lead researcher »

Dr Thorpe said: ‘The chimps’ habi­tat in the wild is mechan­i­cally very chal­leng­ing and dif­fer­ent every day, so zoos need to be able to recre­ate a sim­i­lar envi­ron­ment in cap­tiv­ity. But zoos rarely have ready access to research data on wild chim­panzee behav­iour and the way wild chimps inter­act with their habi­tat. We have designed this tool to give zoos the abil­ity to com­pare the behav­iour of their ani­mals to the lat­est research on wild chimps, and to use that to cre­ate phys­i­cally and cog­ni­tively stim­u­lat­ing enclo­sures that mimic, as closely as pos­si­ble, the mechan­ics of for­est habitats.’

Dr Thorpe con­tin­ued: ‘Great Apes are pre­dicted to be extinct in the wild in around 20 years, so it is extremely impor­tant that we go beyond sim­ply ‘pre­serv­ing’ the ani­mal for its genetic mate­r­ial to ‘con­serv­ing the whole organ­ism’- the behav­ioural traits and phys­i­cal adap­ta­tions that are a vital part of what deter­mines an animal’s abil­ity to sur­vive in their nat­ural envi­ron­ment. Our project is about ensur­ing that future gen­er­a­tions of chimps grow up in a com­plex and dynamic envi­ron­ment that is going to bring out these fea­tures to enhance their wel­fare, show the pub­lic how wild chimps really behave and improve their chance of sur­vival in the wild, should it ever be required.’

The researchers’ new enclo­sure design tool will be avail­able to UK zoos through BIAZA. Dr. Kirsten Pullen, CEO of the British and Irish Asso­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums said: ‘We encour­age all our zoos to develop their wel­fare strate­gies to con­tin­u­ously pro­mote the nat­ural behav­iours of the species in their care. This tool is a sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment in the range of tech­niques avail­able to keep our zoos at the fore­front of ani­mal welfare.’

Dr Jackie Chap­pell, from the Uni­ver­sity of Birmingham’s School of Bio­sciences, who led the project to develop the new tool, said: ‘The enclo­sure design tool is a web-​based tool which pro­vides all the infor­ma­tion zoos need to col­lect and upload behav­ioural infor­ma­tion on their ani­mals. The tool then analy­ses this infor­ma­tion auto­mat­i­cally, pro­vid­ing bespoke, evidence-​based advice about enclo­sure mod­i­fi­ca­tion based on key dif­fer­ences between cap­tive and wild behaviour.’

Dr Char­lotte Mac­don­ald, Direc­tor of Life Sci­ences at Twycross Zoo said: ‘Twycross Zoo hosts a large num­ber of research projects and facil­i­tates sci­en­tific work with the aim to improve the wel­fare of the ani­mals in our care. We are proud to be at the fore­front of great ape con­ser­va­tion and this col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity for mak­ing sure our enclo­sures enable our apes to behave as they would in the wild. Hav­ing imple­mented the rec­om­men­da­tions based on this research into the enclo­sure design, we have already seen a pos­i­tive change in our chim­panzees’ behav­iour and loco­mo­tion to resem­ble wild chimps.’


(Source: Uni­ver­sity of Birm­ing­ham press release, 11.05.2016)


Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
Fol­low me on: