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Inter-specific interactions involving Lemur catta housed in mixed-species exhibits in UK zoos

Law, Samantha, Prankel, Susanne, Schwitzer, C. and Dutton, John (2021) Inter-specific interactions involving Lemur catta housed in mixed-species exhibits in UK zoos. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 9 (4). pp. 247-258. ISSN Online 2214-7594

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Abstract

Ring-tailed lemur Lemur catta are a popular Madagascan species kept in zoos due to their appeal to
visitors. As a flagship endangered species, they are often used to highlight conservation messages and
are frequently kept in mixed-species and walk-through exhibits providing an immersive experience for
the public. However, agonistic events may be more frequent in exhibits housing multiple territorial
primate species with differing dominance hierarchies. Observations were undertaken in nine UK zoos
housing a total of 105 L. catta in 10 polyspecific exhibits using ‘all occurrence sampling’ to record
frequency and duration of agonistic and affiliative interactions between L. catta and other species of
lemur. Observations were conducted in two-hour continuous periods under two conditions: when food
was presented by keepers and when this was not the case. The presence or absence of provisioned
food did not predict changes in any of the relationships examined. Overall, agonistic inter-specific
interactions were observed slightly more frequently than affiliative interactions; the difference was
not significant. Analysis revealed that there was a significant difference in both the frequency and
duration of inter-specific affiliative and agonistic interactions between some exhibits, the presence of
infants (aged <1 year old) and single sex exhibits significantly predicted an increase in the frequency
of affiliative interactions whereas larger troops and the absence of infants were associated with a
reduction of agonistic events. This study found that the conditions within individual exhibits (including
group and design characteristics) significantly influenced interactions between L. catta and other lemur
species. The findings suggest implications for ongoing captive care, and specifically for the management
of species age/combinations.

Item Type: Article
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A pdf file of this article is available to download from this WRaP record.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: aggression, captivity, Lemur catta, mixed-species housing, zoos
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Open Access journal
Depositing User: John Dutton
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2021 09:39
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2021 09:39
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/11469

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