Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


38th Annual Convention; Seattle, WA; 2012

Event Details

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Symposium #193
CE Offered: BACB
The Behavioral Enrichment Animal Research (Bear) Group: Zoo Research From Jaguars to Grizzlies
Sunday, May 27, 2012
2:00 PM–3:20 PM
620 (Convention Center)
Area: AAB/EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Travis Blevins (Behavior Services of the Rockies)
Discussant: Travis Blevins (Behavior Services of the Rockies)
CE Instructor: Eduardo J. Fernandez, Ph.D.

Now almost three years in the making, the Behavioral Enrichment Animal Research (BEAR) Group has focused on examining the behavioral welfare of captive exotic animals, primarily located at Woodland Park Zoo. Since that time, our group has worked on thirteen different projects working with animals including elephants, hippos, Humboldt penguins, grizzly bears, sun bears, sloth bears, Sumatran tigers, jaguars, African wild dogs, golden lion tamarins, ostriches, tree kangaroos. All of these projects have attempted to assess some aspect of animal welfare, and then looked for ways to enhance/enrich the animals studied. In the following symposium, we will discuss three separate projects: (1) the effects of jaguar activity on the behaviors and verbal responses of visitors, (2) the seasonal and daily activity of captive grizzly bears, and (3) the effects of animal visibility and activity on visitor crowd size. For all three projects, we will discuss the ramifications of the presented results, as well as the future directions for the projects. Particular emphasis will be placed on how our BEAR Group, via working with Woodland Park Zoo, can continue to both assess and enhance the animals involved in the various projects we are working with.


The Effects of Jaguar Activity on the Behaviors and Verbal Responses of Visitors

ANDREA GODINEZ (University of Washington), Eduardo J. Fernandez (University of Washington), Kris Morrissey (University of Washington)

Zoo animals serve an important function in helping educate the public about their conservation needs. Despite this important function, little is understood about how visitors respond to different zoo exhibits and the animals that reside within them. We examined how different behaviors displayed by two jaguars located at the Woodland Park Zoo were correlated with visitor behaviors and their responses about the exhibit. Jaguar behaviors were categorized as five possible classes of behavior (Active, Inactive, Grooming, Repetitive, and Other), visitor behaviors were measured in terms of crowd size and individual time spent in front of an exhibit, and visitor responses were measured using a brief survey. Overall, visitors spent significantly less time and formed smaller groups when a jaguar was out of sight (i.e., Other). Visitors showed some lowered responses in their verbal responses. However, these did not correlate with what they did. By understanding how visitors respond to exhibited animals, zoos and other captive institutions can address these behaviors and perceptions in order to create more positive experiences for their visitors.



NATHAN ANDREWS (University of Washington), Eduardo J. Fernandez (University of Washington), James C. Ha (University of Washington)

Captive grizzly bears, similar to their wild counterparts, spend a considerable amount of their time inactive seasonally. We documented the year-long activity of two grizzly bears located at the Woodland Park Zoo. Of particular interest is when activity begins to emerge in relation to when and how the grizzly bears are fed on exhibit. Both seasonal and daily activity was examined with respect to (a) seasonal changes, and (b) several times a day feeding schedules. Of particular interested was how much the events within their daily routine (i.e. when theyre fed) affected these overall behaviors both daily and seasonally. Results will be discussed with respect to how we can modify their feeding schedules and the like to change their overall activity levels, as well as how we can use future feeding schedules to optimize overall grizzly bear activity.


The Effects of Visibility and Activity on Crowd Size Throughout a Zoo

EDUARDO J. FERNANDEZ (University of Washington), James C. Ha (University of Washington)

Zoos have multiple functions, one of which is educating/entertaining visitors that come to the zoo. This plays an important role for other zoo functions; by educating and entertaining zoo visitors, they are more likely to gain support for their conservation efforts. In addition, visitors contribute money directly to the zoo, which helps the zoo care for their animals, as well as paying for the various conservation efforts they are involved with around the world. One particular concern is both how visible and active the animals at a zoo are. When animals are less active, and possibly more importantly, less visible, this can change what the visitors themselves do at the zoo. The following study attempted to quantify this by examining how visible/active the animals were at the Woodland Park Zoo. 64 different points/exhibits at the zoo were examined, and one simple measure of visitor behavior, crowd size, was used. We then examined for both specific exhibits and the zoo as a whole how crowd sized changed as a result of (a) how active certain animals/exhibits were, and (b) how visible they were. The results will be discussed in terms of how we can use such results to better exhibit animals, and thus improve the visitor zoo experience as a whole.




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