Zoo‐housed mammals do not avoid giving birth on weekends

Hosey, G., Ward, S.J. ORCID: 0000-0002-5857-1071, Ferguson, A., Jenkins, H. and Hill, S.P., 2020. Zoo‐housed mammals do not avoid giving birth on weekends. Zoo Biology. ISSN 0733-3188

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Abstract

There is evidence that zoo visitor presence can influence the behaviour and, in some cases, adrenal response of zoo animals, and can sometimes compromise animal welfare. In some laboratory studies, significantly more primate births have been reported on weekends, when fewer people are working there, compared with weekdays when staffing levels are at their highest. Here, we investigate whether there is evidence of a "weekend effect" on births in zoo animals as a result of visitor numbers. Unlike laboratories, zoos are typically busier with visitors on weekends than on weekdays, although staffing levels remain fairly consistent across days of the week. If zoo animal parturition is sensitive to human presence, then fewer births would be expected on weekends compared with weekdays. We tested this using birth data and visitor numbers on the entrance gate from zoo records across 16 species representing artiodactyls, perissodactyls, carnivores and primates at four British zoos, to see whether there is an association between mean daily birth rates and average visitor numbers. We predict that, if there is a visitor effect, daily births should be lower on weekends than weekdays and should correlate with mean daily visitor numbers. Results showed that births for all 16 species were randomly distributed through the week, and there was no significant decline in births on weekends. We conclude that the “weekend effect”, if such a thing exists, does not appear to be a feature of zoo births, suggesting that elevated weekend visitor numbers are not sufficiently stressful to trigger delayed parturition.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Zoo Biology
Creators: Hosey, G., Ward, S.J., Ferguson, A., Jenkins, H. and Hill, S.P.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 21 September 2020
ISSN: 0733-3188
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1002/zoo.21571DOI
1368985Other
Rights: © 2020 The Authors. Zoo Biology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 23 Sep 2020 13:47
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2020 13:48
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/40897

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