Elephants In Zoos At Risk Of Abnormal Behavior
Research by Salford University shows that most elephants in zoos are kept in small groups, which may cause them to display abnormal behavior. As of 2006, at least two-thirds of the world’s zoos keep elephants in groups of four or fewer.
According to Salford University research, in 2006 69% of Asian elephants and 805 of African elephants in world zoos were kept in groups of four or fewer. The results are based on a survey of more than 200 zoos throughout the world. In the wild, however, elephants live in extended family units of about 12 elephants, on average, so they are able to develop normal behavior patterns and friendships.
Small group sizes in zoos can prevent normal social structure and result in abnormal behavior, such as swaying or pacing, which may indicate depression. In a separate survey of 78 zoos accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2005, 40 zoos said they planned to expand or build new elephant exhibits.