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Impact of anthropogenic noise on the welfare of zoo-housed animals


Impact of anthropogenic noise on the welfare of zoo-housed animals

Pelletier, Catherine (2019) Impact of anthropogenic noise on the welfare of zoo-housed animals. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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An increasing number of studies on animal welfare have been performed in zoos in the past decades. Some assessed the impact of noises on animals, but only considered sound frequencies within the human hearing range. Yet, most other animals’ have a wider hearing range. This thesis analysed the effects of sounds and visitor attendance on the welfare of the five feline species of the Panthera genre at Zoo de Granby, Granby, Canada. Activity budget and space use collected with the focal sampling technique were compared to average sound levels, measured with an acoustic recorder, and visitor attendance. The results show that sound levels and visitors had effects on the felines’ behaviors, but this varied between species. For example, during summer, an increase in sound levels increased more resting time for two species, but decreased resting time for the three other species. The sound levels’ effects differed between seasons, calling for animal welfare management adapted to season (e.g. the two largest species of feline had opposite trends during winter when compared to summer for all their behaviors). Based on the “heat maps” of the specific locations the studied animals used, we believe the felines’ space use was influenced by the enclosures’ design and location of resting and shady areas rather than sounds and visitors. Noises and visitors had on some occasion opposite effects on the same behavior and species, suggesting these two factors should be monitored separately when assessing animal welfare. Overall, we did not find strong evidence of poor welfare for any feline species, with the exception of some individuals that showed signs of fearfulness. In an additional study, we evaluated the soundscape of the same Zoo by recording sounds in various locations in cycles of 24 hours. The 24h sound levels of most locations were not considered problematic for animal welfare, except some noisy indoor areas and near the water park. Ultrasounds were rare and not considered problematic to animal welfare, contrary to infrasounds that were loud and variable. Human activity increased sound levels and variability of noises, suggesting they could be detrimental to animal welfare. The soundscape did not change between seasons, meaning mitigation of noise pollution should be implemented at all time. More research is needed on the soundscape of zoos and its effects on animal welfare in a variety of taxa, with all sound frequencies that are in the hearing range of the studied animals.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Biology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Pelletier, Catherine
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M. Sc.
Date:September 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Bertrand Weladji, Robert
Keywords:Animal welfare, noise, visitor effect, behavior, zoo
ID Code:986042
Deposited By: Catherine Pelletier
Deposited On:26 Jun 2020 13:30
Last Modified:26 Jun 2020 13:30


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