Keeper-Animal Interactions: Differences between the Behaviour of Zoo Animals Affect Stockmanship

Ward, S.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-5857-1071 and Melfi, V., 2015. Keeper-Animal Interactions: Differences between the Behaviour of Zoo Animals Affect Stockmanship. PLoS ONE, 10 (10), e0140237. ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Stockmanship is a term used to describe the management of animals with a good stockperson someone who does this in a in a safe, effective, and low-stress manner for both the stock-keeper and animals involved. Although impacts of unfamiliar zoo visitors on animal behaviour have been extensively studied, the impact of stockmanship i.e familiar zoo keepers is a new area of research; which could reveal significant ramifications for zoo animal behaviour and welfare. It is likely that different relationships are formed dependant on the unique keeper-animal dyad (human-animal interaction, HAI). The aims of this study were to (1) investigate if unique keeper-animal dyads were formed in zoos, (2) determine whether keepers differed in their interactions towards animals regarding their attitude, animal knowl- edge and experience and (3) explore what factors affect keeper-animal dyads and ultimately influence animal behaviour and welfare. Eight black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), eleven Chapman’s zebra (Equus burchellii), and twelve Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra) were studied in 6 zoos across the UK and USA. Subtle cues and commands directed by keepers towards animals were identified. The animals latency to respond and the respective behavioural response (cue-response) was recorded per keeper-animal dyad (n=93). A questionnaire was constructed following a five-point Likert Scale design to record keeper demographic information and assess the job satisfaction of keepers, their attitude towards the animals and their perceived relationship with them. There was a significant difference in the animals’ latency to appropriately respond after cues and commands from different keepers, indicating unique keeper-animal dyads were formed. Stockmanship style was also different between keepers; two main components contributed equally towards this: “attitude towards the animals” and “knowledge and experience of the animals”. In this novel study, data demonstrated unique dyads were formed between keepers and zoo animals, which influenced animal behaviour.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Creators: Ward, S.J. and Melfi, V.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date: 2015
Volume: 10
Number: 10
ISSN: 1932-6203
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1371/journal.pone.0140237DOI
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 11 Nov 2015 14:12
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:57
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/26251

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