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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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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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Suckling and allosuckling behavior in wild giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi)

Allosuckling has been reported in many mammalian species. In giraffe, allosuckling has been observed in captivity, and the milk theft hypothesis with reciprocity is regarded as the likeliest explanation for this behavior. However, reports of such behavior in the wild remain sparse to non-existent. Here, we studied the suckling and allosuckling behaviors of three nursing giraffe and their offspring (two calves and one juvenile) for 32 days in the Katavi National Park, Tanzania. In total, we observed 56 suckling bouts,

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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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