Effects separation has on the behavior of captive African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus)
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Adviser(s): Darian Livanec, Dallas Zoo Carnivore Team
Abstract: Due to the species' reclusive nature in the wild and their endangered status, little data has been collected to understand African Wild Dog pack dynamics and behavior. This study focuses on how the absence of a male member of the Dallas Zoos’ small African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) pack, named Mzingo, affects the amount of time his brother and littermate, Jata, spent alone with the newly introduced female, Cholula. Tensions were high over how the brothers might react to the presence of the new female due to a previous attempt in 2019 to introduce an older female, Olah, which ended in a fatal incident. After the initial introduction of Cholula to the brothers, small scuffles and chases with the new female as the target led to zoologists making the decision to separate Mzingo from the pack. The null hypothesis, “Mzingos absence had no effect on the time Jata spent with Cholula and the time Cholula spent with Jata,” was created to better understand the influence Mzingo’s presence had on Cholula and Jata’s relationship. Interns collected data from the roof of the carnivore building which overlooked the Wild Dog habitat. This allowed for optimum visibility and the ability to collect auditory behaviors that would be missed on security cameras. Collected behavioral data was split into three categories: Before Mzingos Separation, During Mzingos Separation, and After Mzingos Separation. A t-test was performed to understand the statistical significance of how the separation affected Jata and Cholulas relationship. This data can be used for future reference by other captive facilities facing similar challenges, and provides zoologists the opportunity to decide if separation is the solution to their struggles. Since the end of the data collection period and internship, the dogs have been reportedly doing well.