Management factors affecting adrenal glucocorticoid activity of tourist camp elephants in Thailand and implications for elephant welfare

Autoři: Pakkanut Bansiddhi aff001;  Janine L. Brown aff001;  Jaruwan Khonmee aff001;  Treepradab Norkaew aff001;  Korakot Nganvongpanit aff001;  Veerasak Punyapornwithaya aff005;  Taweepoke Angkawanish aff007;  Chaleamchat Somgird aff001;  Chatchote Thitaram aff001
Působiště autorů: Center of Elephant and Wildlife Research, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand aff001;  Department of Companion Animals and Wildlife Clinics, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand aff002;  Center for Species Survival, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Front Royal, VA, United States of America aff003;  Department of Veterinary Bioscience and Veterinary Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand aff004;  Department of Food Animal Clinic, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand aff005;  Excellent Center of Veterinary Public Health, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand aff006;  National Elephant Institute, Lampang, Thailand aff007
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221537


Elephant camps are among the most popular destinations in Thailand for tourists from many countries. A wide range of management strategies are used by these camps, which can have varied impacts on health and welfare of elephants. The objectives of this study were to examine relationships between FGM (fecal glucocorticoid metabolite) concentrations and camp management factors (work routine, walking, restraint, rest area, foraging), and to other welfare indicators (stereotypic behaviors, body condition, foot health, and skin wounds). Data were obtained on 84 elephants (18 males and 66 females) from 15 elephant camps over a 1-year period. Elephants were examined every 3 months and assigned a body condition score, foot score, and wound score. Fecal samples were collected twice monthly for FGM analysis. Contrary to some beliefs, elephants in the observation only program where mahouts did not carry an ankus for protection had higher FGM concentrations compared to those at camps that offered riding with a saddle and shows. Elephants that were tethered in the forest at night had lower FGM concentrations compared to elephants that were kept in open areas inside the camps. There was an inverse relationship between FGM concentrations and occurrence of stereotypy, which was not anticipated. Thus, assessing adrenal activity via monitoring of FGM concentrations can provide important information on factors affecting the well-being of elephants. Results suggest that more naturalistic housing conditions and providing opportunities to exercise may be good for elephants under human care in Thailand, and that a no riding, no hook policy does not necessarily guarantee good welfare.

Klíčová slova:

Animal welfare – Behavior – Cortisol – Exercise – Forests – Metabolites – Walking – Elephants


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