BUCKEN, S. M. & GÜRTLER, W.-D. (2013)

Vergesellschaftung als Verhaltensbereicherung im Zoo – Soziale Interaktion und Raumnutzung bei Orang-Utans, Hulmans und Kurzkrallenottern in der Zoom Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen

Der Zoologische Garten (N.F.) 82 (1-2): 40-59. ISSN: 0044-5169


Keeping different species together is getting more and more common in zoos, because it can entail several behavioural enrichment factors for the animals as long as the enclosure meets the requirements of all species and a suitable composition of animals is living in the mix. The aim of this study is to evaluate a community of Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), northern plains grey langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) and Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea) in the Zoological Garden of Gelsenkirchen.

The behavioural monitoring of the animals reveals that the orangutans spend less time with feeding behaviour and locomotion than free ranging orangutans, whereas the percentage of resting periods is much higher. This difference is probably caused by the easy availability of food. The northern plains grey langurs show ethograms whose proportions are very similar to those of free ranging grey langurs in literature. In both species the juvenile individuals have higher activity levels than the adult animals.

The analysis of the spatial use of the enclosure by the orangutans reveals that they use about half of the area and prefer places at the ground for resting. On an average the orangutans spend around 50% of the monitored situations on the ground which is a high level for an arboreal living species. The time spent on the ground is distinctly lower in orangutans reared by their parents than in hand reared individuals which are probably affected by humans. Another influencing point is the sex. Adult male orangutans spend more time on the ground. This is a fact which is also known from free ranging animals. Related to their environment free ranging northern plains grey langurs show a high adaptability and the individuals in the zoo use about 70% of the enclosure and use frequently all structuring elements like trees, roots and ropes. Like the orangutans the grey langurs have preferred areas in the enclosure where they spend their resting periods with grooming, lactating and the feeding periods. Generally, the Asian small-clawed otters spend less time in the enclosure than the monkeys and use less than one third of the area.

Most of the time free ranging orangutans live solitarily and thus it was predictable that there is only a fraction of intraspecific interactions between orangutans whereas the percentage of interactions between langurs is higher. The northern plains grey langurs live in harem troops and social interactions are more than 40% of the zoo langur's ethogram on an average. Asian small-clawed otters are also highly social animals and intraspecific contacts take place very often.

The analysis of the monitored interspecific interactions between all species reveals that the juvenile animals of both primate species have distinct more interspecific contacts than the adult animals. In most cases the interactions are positive or playful contacts. Especially between a 12-year-old female orang-utan and one of the juvenile langurs friendly interactions with body contact were monitored often. Between the adult animals agonistic contacts or submission are most common. The Asian small-clawed otters are very interested in the orangutans and often approach towards them to have a sniff or pull their hair.

The community of all three species is quite harmonious and serves as behavioural enrichment for all individuals. For the visitors the mixed enclosure is a benefit as well.



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