BIAZA Research Symposium location:Blair-Drummond, UK date:1-2 july 2014
We investigated the use of space, activity budget and visitor effect in a mixed species exhibit of penguins. The Antwerp Zoo (Belgium) houses King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus)(n=13), Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua)(n=6 - 9) and Macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus)(n=9) in an indoor exhibit (105 m²) with a flat, rocky occasionally icy land area with a small cave and a pool (56 m²). Intra- and interspecific aggressions were scored continuously during 7 hours per day for a total observation time of 231 hours. The activity budget was scanned every 5 minutes, as well as the location of the penguins in the different exhibit areas to calculate the spread of participation index. To analyze the visitor effect we compared 10 days with the highest daily number of visitors (1000 – 5000 visitors) with 10 days with the lowest daily zoo visitor number (200- 600 visitors) of our observation period. The Gentoo penguins were found to use more different areas than the Macaroni and King penguins. Overall, the three species swam very little (on average 10% of their time) in comparison to the natural activity budget and in comparison to another captive study group. Intraspecific aggression was more frequent than inter-specific aggression. Pointing made up half of all the aggressions. During inter-specific aggressions, the King penguins aggressed the other species most frequently, whereas the Macaroni penguins received most frequently aggression from both other species. Desired behaviors such as swimming and the use of different areas of the enclosure, occurred more frequently on days with less visitors, potentially indicating a positive welfare state with few visitors. High visitor number made the penguins passive. On the other hand, aggression was also higher on days with less visitors, possibly due to the increased mobility of the penguins and higher probability of encountering others. So visitor numbers had a mixed effect on the behaviour of the penguins, and implications for welfare need to be further evaluated.