The influence of feeding, enrichment and seasonal context on the behavior of Pacific walruses
Though some research exists concerning general behavior and activity patterns of Walruses in zoos or aquariums, less is known about how these patterns change in response to various environmental and temporal contexts.
This study presents two studies assessing behavioral changes in relation to feeding period, object enrichment (OE), and season in a social group of four Pacific Walruses at the New York Aquarium. Study 1 examined behavior in relation to feeding context (nonfeed, prefeed, postfeed); data were collected over a three-week period, resulting in 47 observation sessions for each feeding context. Study 2 examined behavior in relation to OE and season; data were collected in two phases resulting in 12 enrichment and 9 no-enrichment (NE) observation sessions (Phase 1), and 21 enrichment and 18 NE observation sessions (Phase 2). Study 1 showed that after feeding, oral behavior increased while social behavior and total swim frequency decreased. In Study 2, both swim frequency and social behavior were found to interact with OE and phase, while oral behavior remained constant across all conditions. As in the wild, both studies found all animals to be swimming the majority of the time. Though every animal spent much of its swim time engaged in an Individual Swimming Pattern (ISP), both studies showed that the proportion of ISP (in relation to total time swimming) remained stable across all contexts, suggesting a potential functional role of the ISPs. These results are discussed in light of the ongoing debate over the role of stereotypies in welfare assessment.
Title: The influence of feeding, enrichment and seasonal context on the behavior of Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens).
Authors: Franks B, Lyn H, Klein L and Reiss D
Source: Zoo Biology, 2010, volume 29, issue 3