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Title: Management factors affecting adrenal glucocorticoid activity of tourist camp elephants in Thailand and implications for elephant welfare
Authors: Pakkanut Bansiddhi
Janine L. Brown
Jaruwan Khonmee
Treepradab Norkaew
Korakot Nganvongpanit
Veerasak Punyapornwithaya
Taweepoke Angkawanish
Chaleamchat Somgird
Chatchote Thitaram
Keywords: Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2019
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. 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.
ISSN: 19326203
Appears in Collections:CMUL: Journal Articles

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