Social Factors Influencing the Welfare of Animals in Zoos and Aquariums (#294)
Within zoological institutions animals are often exhibited in unnatural social settings due to a variety of factors. These include, but are not limited to, exhibit design, aggression, genetics, surplus animals, geriatric care and veterinary services. Examples include geriatric animals that, due to advanced medicine, have outlived their wild counterparts and cannot be exhibited in normal social groups because of age-related health issues, or animals that have been removed from social groups due to increased aggression. Having social animals living a solitary life or solitary animals living in a social setting may impact their welfare. Understanding how these situations influence the welfare, positively or negatively, of animals is critical to the future of zoos. Previous research will be examined to highlight what we currently know about how these situations impact different positive and negative indicators of welfare. We also will discuss future studies that are needed to ensure each individual animal is thriving under professional care.