Investigating the impact of large carcass feeding on the behavior of captive Andean condors (Vultur gryphus) and its perception by zoo visitors

Hannah Gaengler, Nancy Clum
Zoo Biology 2015, 34 (2): 118-29
Naturalistic feeding methods, such as the provision of whole carcasses to zoo animals, are potentially controversial because zoo visitors might not approve of them. However, since several species of zoo animals feed from large carcasses in the wild, this food type could benefit their welfare in captivity compared to other less-natural food types. Scavengers in particular almost exclusively live on carcasses in nature; therefore, their welfare in captivity could significantly depend on the opportunity to express behaviors related to carcass feeding. In this study, we assessed the frequency of carcass feeding for vultures in North American zoos and investigated the effect of different food types on the behavior of zoo-housed Andean condors (Vultur gryphus). We also evaluated the opinion of North American zoo visitors about carcass feeding. Our results show that small whole carcasses (rats, rabbits) are part of the diet of vultures in most North American zoos, but large whole carcasses (ungulates) are rarely fed. Our behavioral study indicated that Andean condors appear to be more motivated to feed on more natural food types, which also seem to physically engage the birds more and occupy them longer. Most zoo visitors approved of carcass feeding for captive vultures over a range of prey animals, and the majority would also like to observe the vultures eat. Collectively, our results demonstrate that carcass feeding, particularly with larger prey, potentially enriches both zoo-housed vultures as well as the visitor experience.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"