Scientific Studies Carried Out at the Zoo de Granby

How zoos define animal welfare has evolved and has greatly expanded over the years. We have gone from animals that “survive in captivity” to healthy animals that reproduce themselves, protected from stressful environments and the changes brought about by the modern world. More recently, the conservation and research department of the Zoo de Granby has been concentrating part of its research on animal welfare by studying natural behaviours, cognitive stimulation and selection processes with certain species.

3 Research Projects

Over the past few years, collaboration with Concordia University has made it possible to pursue such research projects at the Zoo de Granby.

A first master’s research study was completed in 2016 and examined a group of Japanese macaques before and after their merger with another group and their move into a new habitat. These changes caused a lot of turmoil in the hierarchy of the clan.
After a rather turbulent period, the macaques showed signs of habituation behaviours to their new environment and of hierarchal stability settling in. Since then, three new births have been registered!

A second subject explored the effects of “open” design habitats, that is, enclosures with no physical barriers between the visitors and the animals. The case in point concerns the kangaroos and wallabies of the Zoo de Granby. Three zoos, one in Quebec, one in Ontario and one in the United States, were visited for this study. By analyzing the animals’ behavioural data and by questioning visitors, the conclusion they came to, was that “open” design enclosures improved the visitors’ experience without compromising the well-being of the animals.

Next came a study of the social dynamics of Caribbean flamingoes in order to help them with their reproduction. Hundreds of hours spent observing the zoo’s flock, allowed researchers to determine that flamingoes react to several environmental factors. Among these, they noted the size and composition of the group, as well as the more or less stable pairings as being factors that can diminish their reproductive success. Since then, actions have been implemented to optimize the well-being of the birds, therefore demonstrating that these researches do have a very real impact.

Finally, this summer, a master’s research project began studying the impact of noise on the welfare of animals. Tapes playing audible sounds and ultrasounds (only heard by some animals) with special detectors will allow researchers to establish a “sound map” inside the zoo. Five feline species will be examined to analyze if the noise level in their environment is enough to modify their behaviour.

Research truly helps to support the animal-care department and the veterinary team who monitors the physical, reproductive and psychological health of our residents.