Nocturnal behavior in captive giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)—A pilot study

Captive giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are known to perform oral and locomotor stereotypies. However, many studies do not consider the behavioral repertoire of these animals during the time when animals are confined to night quarters. At two zoological institutions, a total of six captive giraffes were observed via camera trap technology throughout six diurnal and nocturnal periods to record feeding, ruminating, and stereotypic behaviors. The effect of browse enrichment was assessed on alternate nights to determine how behaviors may be altered in the presence of natural forage. Results need to be interpreted with caution due to a high proportion of time when animals were out of camera range. For the observed time, stereotypical licking behavior was significantly higher at night compared to daytime at both facilities, while tongue play increased at the same time, but not significantly. The provision of browse enrichment during the night decreased the rate of tongue playing, but not significantly; however, browse did significantly reduce pacing behavior. Across treatments and institutions, observed oral stereotypies tended to correlate negatively with increased feeding behavior. Apart from a short-term effect of enrichment, this study indicates relevant differences in the frequencies of behaviors observed during the day and night, suggesting that assessing nocturnal behavior specifically may be important in many species.

Publish DateMarch 15, 2020
Last UpdatedJanuary 27, 2021
Size298.99 KB