• The effects of a zoo environment on free-living, native small mammal species

      Elwell, Emily; Leeson, Christopher; Vaglio, Stefano (Wiley, 2021-03-25)
      One of the main threats to native species conservation is urbanization. It is causing changes to natural habitats and species composition. Urban green spaces have shown to have conservation value for native species by providing safe spaces in urban areas. They typically contain a variety of habitats and plant species which is correlated with greater abundance and diversity of small mammal species. Zoos are a vital resource for animal conservation and, in some instances, could be considered as an urban green space for native species conservation. Their unique environment provides free-living, native species an abundance of resources including food and shelter. This project involved the live trapping of free-living small mammal species (<40 g) between enclosures in Dudley Zoological Gardens to study the effects of the zoo environment. There were no significant differences found between total number of captures and trap proximity to enclosures. There was a significant difference in total captures found between different enclosure trapping areas. Generalized linear mixed models were fitted to the data and there were significant relationships between abundance and both habitat type and enclosure species. Habitats associated with semi-natural woodland had the greatest diversity and total captures of small mammals. Total captures was lower in trapping areas that were associated with predatory species. Similar to research on green spaces, habitat was an important factor determining abundance, but predator enclosures were a factor unique to zoos. This study illustrates the potential of zoos as an urban green space and for the study of small mammals.
    • Gum feeder as environmental enrichment for zoo marmosets and tamarins

      Regaiolli, Barbara; Angelosante, Chiara; Marliani, Giovanna; Accorsi, Pier Attilio; Vaglio, Stefano; Spiezio, Caterina (Wiley, 2020-01-15)
      Tamarins and marmosets are small‐bodied social callitrichines. Wild callitrichines feed on exudates, such as sap and gum; particularly, marmosets are mainly gummivores, while tamarins consume gums only occasionally and opportunistically. Zoo marmosets and tamarins are usually provided with gum arabic as an alternative to the exudates normally found in the wild. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a gum feeder on the behavior and well‐being of four zoo‐managed callitrichines. We studied four cotton‐top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus), four red‐handed tamarins (S. midas), two pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea), and three Geoffroy's marmosets (Callithrix geoffroyi) housed at Parco Natura Viva (Italy). We conducted the study over two different periods, a baseline (control, without the gum feeder) and then a gum feeder (when the gum feeder was provided) period. We used continuous focal animal sampling to collect behavioral data, including durations of social and individual behaviors. We collected 240 min of observations per period per study subject, with a total of 3,120 min for all the subjects in the same period and of 6,240 min in both periods. We analyzed data by using nonparametric statistical tests. First, we found that the gum feeder promoted species‐specific behaviors, such as exploration, and diminished self‐directed behaviors, suggesting an enriching effect on tamarin and marmoset behavior. Moreover, in red‐handed tamarins, the provision of the gum feeder reduced the performance of self‐directed and abnormal behavior, specifically coprophagy. These results confirm that gum feeders are effective foraging enrichment tools for zoo marmosets and tamarins.