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14/07/2016, 10:00

Behavioral ecology of сaptive species

Which mammal species are suitable to be kept as pet? For answering this question many factors have to be considered. Animals have many adaptations to their natural environment in which they have evolved that may cause adaptation problems and/or risks in captivity.

Problems may be visible in behavior, welfare, health, and/or human–animal interaction, resulting, for example, in stereotypies, disease, and fear. A framework is developed in which bibliographic information of mammal species from the wild and captive environment is collected and assessed by three teams of animal scientists.

Oneliners from literature about behavioral ecology, health, and welfare and human–animal relationship of 90 mammal species are collected by team 1 in a database and strength of behavioral needs and risks is assessed by team 2.

Based on summaries of those strengths the suitability of the mammal species is assessed by team 3.

Involvement of stakeholders for supplying bibliographic information and assessments was propagated. Combining the individual and subjective assessments of the scientists using statistical methods makes the final assessment of a rank order of suitability as pet of those species less biased and more objective.

The framework is dynamic and produces an initial rank ordered list of the pet suitability of 90 mammal species, methods to add new mammal species to the list or remove animals from the list and a method to incorporate stakeholder assessments.

A model is developed that allows for provisional classification of pet suitability. Periodical update of the pet suitability framework is expected to produce an updated list with increased reliability and accuracy.

Furthermore, the framework could be further developed to assess the pet suitability of additional species of other animal groups, e.g., birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

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