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Further behavioural parameters support reciprocity and milk theft as explanations for giraffe allonursing

Suckling of a non-filial calf, or allosuckling, is an extreme case of allomaternal care in mammals. There have been many hypotheses postulated in an attempt to explain this behaviour; however, the supporting evidence differs, together with the conclusions drawn from the investigated variables. Previously, suckling bout rejection was analysed, and the milk theft and reciprocity hypotheses were both determined as the most appropriate explanation of allosuckling in giraffe. In this study, seven hypotheses were tested using different behavioural parameters, namely

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Maternal Behaviour in Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Allomaternal care is one of the most interesting types of cooperation among females. Its most extreme form is allonursing, nursing of a non-filial young, which is still not completely understood, even though many hypotheses have been postulated. This type of cooperation among giraffes had not been expected for long time. This was based on the initial opinion that giraffes do not have social system and form only weak social bonds. However, my bachelor and master theses showed high occurrence of

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Simultaneous multiple‐calf allonursing by a wild Masai giraffe

Allonursing is when mothers nurse young that are not their own. It is rarely seen in wild giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis). Pratt and Anderson (1979) reported that of 860 observations of nursing attempts, 37 were by an unrelated calf, and just one succeeded in sustained nursing. Saito and Idani (2018) documented only five of 76 allonursing attempts resulted in sustained nursing. Typically, the mother appeared unaware that the nursing calf was not her own, and thus, these studies concluded that the

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Higher maternal care and tolerance in more experienced giraffe mothers

Maternal investment and maternal care provided by mammalian females can change during their ontogeny. Differences may be related to the age and/or experience (parity) of the female. Several hypotheses have been postulated to explain changes in the rate of maternal care of females during their lifetime. The residual reproductive value hypothesis supposes a higher rate of maternal care in older and more experienced females, in contrast the targeted reproductive effort hypothesis predicts lower levels of maternal care in older and/or

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Stealing milk by young and reciprocal mothers: high incidence of allonursing in giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis

Allonursing, the nursing of nonfilial offspring, has been reported in a number of mammalian species; however, very few studies have investigated more than three hypotheses. The aim of our study was to investigate seven hypotheses explaining allonursing in captive giraffes. During 2007-2011, we observed 24 females and 37 calves in four zoological gardens in the Czech Republic, recording 2514 suckling events. We found that 83% of the females allonursed a nonfilial calf and 86.5% of calves allosuckled from a nonmaternal

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Giraffe nursing behaviour reflects environmental conditions

Nursing behaviour is one component of mammalian life history strategy that demonstrates context-dependent flexibility within species. Wild giraffes live in groups and feed themselves over large area. In the zoo, giraffes are kept in enclosures with abundant food resources.We aimed to analyse whether the nursing behaviour of giraffes differs between the zoo and nature reserve and discuss which factor (food intake, presence of predators, population density) can explain the difference. We observed seven and four female–calf pairs in the Bandia

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