Husbandry and enclosure influences on penguin behavior and conservation breeding

Andy Marshall, Nicolas John Deere, Holly A. Little, Ross Snipp, Jackie Goulder, Stacey Mayer-Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multi-zoo comparisons of animal welfare are rare, and yet vital for ensuring continued improvement of zoo enclosures and husbandry. Methods are not standardised for the development of zoo enclosures based on multiple indicators, and case study species are required. This study compares behavior and breeding success to various enclosure and husbandry parameters for the Humboldt penguin, Spheniscus humboldti, for the development of improved enclosure design. Behavioral sampling was completed at Flamingo Land over a period of eight months. Further data on behavior, enclosure design and breeding success were collected via questionnaires, visits to zoos, and literature review. Breeding success was primarily influenced by colony age and number of breeding pairs, suggesting an important social influence on reproduction. Across zoos, there was also significant variation in behavior. The proportion of time spent in water varied between zoos (2-23%) and was used as an indicator of physical activity and natural behavior. Regression models revealed that water-use was best predicted by total enclosure area per penguin, followed by land area, with some evidence for positive influence of pool surface area per penguin. Predominantly linear/curvilinear increases in our biological indicators with enclosure parameters suggest that optimal conditions for S. humboldti were not met among the selected zoos. We propose revised minimum conditions for S. humboldti enclosure design, which exceed those in the existing husbandry guidelines. We present a framework for the evaluation of zoo enclosures and suggest that a rigorous scientific protocol be established for the design of new enclosures, based on multivariate methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-397
Number of pages13
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number5
Early online date3 Aug 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2016

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© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • exhibit design
  • fecundity
  • GLM
  • Sphenisciformes
  • swimming
  • welfare

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