SIMONCINI Melina Soledad
congresos y reuniones científicas
Evaluating the activity patterns of Caiman latirostris and its use of the enclosure in Cordoba Zoo (Argentina): a preliminary study.
Congreso; 24th Working meeting Crocodile Specialist Group/UICN; 2016
Institución organizadora:
Internationa Union Conservation of Nature/Crocodile Specialist Group
Assessing animalwelfare in zoos is a basic requirement to promote management measures thatimprove life conditions. Welfare may be initially assessed by describingbehavior of captive animals and their interaction with the environment. To date,no studies have described the repertoire of behaviors of Caiman latirostris and their use of the environment in zoos. We conducteda preliminary study of a C. latirostrispopulation (4 adults and 3 juveniles) during the breeding season, whichconsisted of developing an ethogram based on behavioral observations andsupporting information taken from the literature of wild crocodilians. Thefrequency of each behavior was obtained through observations and according tothe size of individual (discriminating adults from juveniles). Using a chi-squaretest contingency table for non-independent samples (McNemar test), we evaluatedthe association between individual size and behavior frequency. Behaviors wererecorded between 9:00 and 18:00 hrs during 26 days (December 2015-March 2016). Simultaneously,the location of each individual was recorded using a scan sampling to analyze useof space by the group as a whole and according to size via a modified Spread ofParticipation Index (SPI), often used in studies of zoo animals. The enclosure,which consists of a 130-m2 artificial lake and a central 90-m2 island,was divided into 10 zones, depending on the presence/absence of food, proximityto the visitors, and/or following the structural limits of the environment. Thirty different behaviors performed in 5533 events(juveniles 2064; adults 3469) were recorded. The most common behaviors were:(a) semi-submerged (20.8%), (b) walking (17.8%), (c) in the shade (12.1%), (d)swimming without immersion ( 13.3%), (e) basking (10.2%) and (f) swimming withimmersion (5.8%), whereas the remaining behaviors, such as aggressions,courtship and copulation, had frequencies below 5%. Adults showed a higherfrequency of behaviors (a), (d) and (f), related to the lake sector, whereas juvenileshowed a higher frequency of behaviors (b), (c) and (e), related to the islandsector. Adults? preference for water may berelated to thermoregulatory behavior; therefore, this behavior could change atdifferent times of the day. Consequently, it would be interesting to assess possibledifferences in patterns of behavior associated with different sizes and atdifferent times of day. SPI for the whole population revealed limited use ofspace (SPI = 0.373), with adults (SPI = 0.340) showing greater use than juveniles(SPI = 0.524). Althoughpreliminary, these results are consistent with a hierarchical behaviorassociated with animal size, which could be exacerbated during the reproductiveperiod in mixed groups, such as those housed in Cordoba Zoo. These results arethe baseline for the development of a framework project aiming at identifyingand assessing key behaviors; this information will be useful for adapting theenclosure of these animals and therefore improve their welfare.