Behavioural examination of a successful introduction of a hand-reared white rhinoceros.
Running title: Successful introduction of a hand-reared white rhinoceros.
51 Seiten, 7 Grafiken, 2 Anhänge.
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow.
Zoo Augsburg (Dr. B. Jantschke)
Introductions and familiarisations of captive animals are common in contemporary zoos. To introduce hand-reared offspring to conspecifics can be challenging as they may lack social skills and have rarely been investigated in non-primate mammals. A behavioural assessment of these processes for hand-reared rhinoceros has not been previously reported. A hand-reared southern white rhinoceros calf (Ceratotherium simum simum) was introduced to an initially aggressive individual, the mother of another calf. Using continuous observations of social interactions (agonistic, cohesive and play behaviour) and instantaneous sampling of four routine behaviours (feeding, resting, locomotion, interaction environment) two weeks before and after the full introduction, the behaviour of five white rhinos was observed. The routine behaviours were quantified as proportion of time and social interaction as frequency.
Immediately following introduction, the frequency of agonistic behaviours increased but then dropped quickly. Additionally, cohesive behaviours involved all individuals and elicited play behaviour suggesting that previously used indicators for primates, as affiliative and play behaviour with all group members, may also be applied to other groups to assess a successful introduction. Surprisingly, most social interactions and the closest bond of the hand-reared infant occurred with the initially aggressive individual and her calf. This shows that even once aggressive behaviour occurred, a successful introduction is still possible and the information gained are relevant to guide similar future introductions and give valuable reference information. Increased frequencies and greater behavioural diversity after the introduction indicated a welfare benefit for the introduced individual, as well as the opportunity to learn species-appropriate behaviour.