Effects of scent enrichment on behavioural and physiological indicators of stress in zoo primates
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Accorsi, Pier Attilio
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AbstractCaptive breeding is vital for primate conservation, with modern zoos serving a crucial role in breeding populations of threatened species and educating the general public. However, captive populations can experience welfare issues that may also undermine their reproductive success. In order to enhance the well-being of endangered zoo primates, we conducted a study to assess the effects of a new scent enrichment programme on captive red-ruffed lemurs (Varecia rubra), black howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya), siamangs (Symphalangus syndactylus), Lar gibbons (Hylobates lar) and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus). We combined behavioural observations and faecal endocrinology analyses to evaluate the effects of a series of essential oils (benzoin, lavender, lemongrass) on five captive troops (N = 19) housed at Dudley Zoo & Castle and Twycross Zoo (UK). We recorded observations of natural species-specific and abnormal stress-related behaviours for 480 hr using instantaneous scan sampling. We collected 189 faecal samples and measured the faecal cortisol concentrations using radioimmunoassay. We found a significant effect of the scent enrichment on behaviours, with red-ruffed lemurs and black howler monkeys reducing their social interactions, as well as red-ruffed lemurs and Lar gibbons decreasing their stress-related behaviours, after they were exposed to the series of essential oils. We also found that red-ruffed lemurs displayed a significant increase in faecal glucocorticoids following the exposure to essential oils. Our contradictory findings suggest that the effects of this series of essential oils may change depending on the species-specific social lives and olfactory repertoires of primates. In conclusion, we cannot recommend using these essential oils widely with zoo primates without additional evaluation.
CitationVaglio, S., Kaburu, S. S. K., Pearce, R., Bryant, L., McAuley, A., Lott, A., Sheppard, D. J., Smith, S., Tompkins, B., Elwell, E., Fontani, S., Young, C., Marliani, G., & Accorsi, P. A. (2021). Effects of scent enrichment on behavioural and physiological indicators of stress in zoo primates. American Journal of Primatology, 83, e23247. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23247.
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Description© 2021 The Authors. Published by Wiley. This is an open access article available under a Creative Commons licence. The published version can be accessed at the following link on the publisher’s website: https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.23247
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/