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|Title:||Associations among tourist camp management, high and low tourist seasons, and welfare factors in female Asian elephants in Thailand|
Janine L. Brown
|Keywords:||Agricultural and Biological Sciences|
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
|Abstract:||This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. This study investigated how camp management and tourist activities affect body condition, adrenocortical function, lipid profiles and metabolic status in female tourist elephants. We compared twice monthly serum insulin, glucose, fructosamine, total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), low density lipoprotein (LDL), high density lipoprotein (HDL), and fecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations to body condition scores (BCS) at five camps with different management styles (e.g., tourist activities, work type, diet) between the High (November–February) and Low (March–October) tourist seasons. There were significant camp effects on health parameters, with BCS, TC, HDL, insulin and glucose being among the highest, and G:I being the lowest (less heathy) in elephants at an observation camp compared to those at camps where elephants received exercise by providing rides to tourists. Differences between High and Low tourist season months also were found for all measures, except TG and FGM concentrations. Both work time and walking distance were negatively correlated to glucose, fructosamine and insulin, while walking distance was negatively related to FGM concentrations. By contrast, positive associations were found between tourist number and BCS, TG, and insulin, perhaps related to tourists feeding elephants. Quantity of supplementary diet items (e.g., bananas, sugar cane, pumpkin) were positively correlated with FGM concentrations, glucose, fructosamine, and insulin. This study provides evidence that body condition, adrenal activity, metabolic markers, and lipid profiles in captive elephants may be affected by visitor numbers, work activities, and the amount of supplementary foods offered by tourists. Some activities appear to have negative (e.g., feeding), while others (e.g., exercise) may have positive effects on health and welfare. We conclude that camps adopting a more hands-off approach to tourism need to ensure elephants remain healthy by providing environments that encourage activity and rely on more natural diets or foraging.|
|Appears in Collections:||CMUL: Journal Articles|
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