Investigating food preference in zoo‐housed meerkats

Brox, Bridget W., Edwards, Katheryn, Buist, Natasha A. and Macaskill, Anne C. (2021) Investigating food preference in zoo‐housed meerkats. Zoo Biology. ISSN 0733-3188

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Understanding food preference among animals in human care can support improvements to welfare through training and day‐to‐day care (e.g., diet management). Little has been published about food preference in zoo‐housed meerkats. Assessing meerkat food preference would be useful, not only for the welfare of that species, but also for developing approaches to assessing food preference in other grouphoused, social species. The specific aim of this study was to quantify food preference within the meerkat mob at Wellington Zoo. We developed a simple, cost‐effective method for characterizing the food preference hierarchy in meerkats by presenting pairs of foods to the mob as a group. We observed stable preference with the hierarchy for pups closely resembling that for adults. This study demonstrated that it is possible to assess food preference and identify a food preference hierarchy for a group of animals from a social species where it was neither practical nor appropriate to assess individuals' preferences separately.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: animal welfare, food preference, meerkat
Depositing User: Ms Raisa Burton
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2021 14:18
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2021 14:18
Related URLs: https://onlinel ... .1002/zoo.21640 (Publisher URL)

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