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.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #413
Behavior Analysis, Training, and Enrichment in the Zoo
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
9:00 AM–10:20 AM
Private Dining Room 3 (3rd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Terry L. Maple (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Zoos and aquariums have deployed behavior analytic techniques in animal managment and in research settings for many years. The laboratory at Georgia Tech has been engaged in research, training, management, and enrichment of zoo animals for thirty years. This symposium brings together the work of students, faculty, alumni and collaborators from Georgia Tech and allied institutions to examine behavior analysis for elephants, giant pandas, gorillas, orangutans, and other creatures. The series of eight talks (two contiguous symposia) range from teaching behavior analysis to conducting experimental analysis research in the zoo. The final two talks deal with the logistics of zoo research and scientific management. Dr. Marr and Dr. Maple share their experiences working with large, complex megafauna and the challenges they faced during thirty years of research in zoos and primate research centers.
The Zoo as a Venue for the Experimental Analysis Course
M. JACKSON MARR (Georgia Institute of Technology), Angela Kelling (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: For a decade, Georgia Tech has utilized Zoo Atlanta as a venue for the experimental analysis of Behavior course for undergraduates. Tech students are able to get a unique, hands-on experience shaping zoo animals. Their research also provides enrichment for the animals and help the keepers to train animals for husbandry and medical care. The opportunity to train animals in a naturalistic setting results in greater satisfaction for the students, and high ratings for the experience. In exit interviews, undergraduate majors cite this course as one of the most valuable and memorable experiences at Tech.
The Use of Technology and Behavior Principles to Enrich Captive Primate Environments
SUMA MALLAVARAPU (Georgia Institute of Technology), Andrea Clay (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Studies of nonhuman primates show that enriching captive environments increases species typical behavior and decreases aggession, sterotypies, and other behavior problems. Unlike simple objects that generate rapid habituation, computer-assisted enrichment provides for tasks of increasing complexity and unpredictability, and give the animal some control over reward acquisition. Principles of learning and positive reinforcement have been applied to shape joystick acquistiion in great apes and monkeys at the zoo. The shaping of curor movement to obtain food rewards is also described.
Behavioral and Environmental Approaches to Occupying Elephants
STEPHANIE ALLARD (Georgia Institute of Technology), Megan L. Wilson (Lincoln Park Zoo)
Abstract: Controversy surrounds the managment of elephants in American zoos. New approaches to training involve a system known as "protective contact". The training technology is operant conditioning from outside the enclosure. We studied a zoo management program that changed form free contact to protected contact, and learned how the elephants and the staff adapted to the new system. The art of animal training has dominated in recent history, but there is a trend to behavioral (scientific) management. We strongly argue that elephant management must be scientific to be successful and safe.
Preliminary Evidence for "Rule-of-Thumb" Foraging in Captive Giant Pandas
LORAINE R. TAROU (Grand Valley State University), David G. Powell (National Zoological Park), Jessamine Williams (National Zoological Park)
Abstract: Giant pandas are herbivorous carnivores whose diet consists almost entirely of bamboo. According to optimal diet theory, animals are under strong selective pressure to forage in such a way as to maaximize the net rate energy gain per unit time. Eighteen classic choice trials were conducted in which three bamboo species were randomly paired. Preference was assessed using the amoung of time spent feeding on each species during the first hour of exposure and total overnight consumption. As predicted, leasves were preferred over stems, and both pandas exhibited a preference for P. japonica. An analysis of feeding behavior indicated that handling time was signifantly shorter for this species. The findings are discussed in terms of husbandry, management, and conservation issues.



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