Dierenwelzijn in dierenverblijven met naturalistisch versus niet naturalistisch design

Sara D'haen
Een bezoekersperceptie en gedragsobservatie om na te gaan of de natuurlijkheid van een verblijf of object een rol speelt bij de voorkeur van zowel mens als dier.

De aantrekkingskracht van de natuur

Stel dat u in een dierentuin rondloopt. Speelt de natuurlijkheid van de omgeving dan een rol? En vooral hoe denken de dieren erover? Naar aanleiding van mijn bachelorproef heb ik ervoor gekozen om een vergelijkende studie uit te voeren om zo dierenwelzijn in dierentuinverblijven met natuurlijk versus onnatuurlijk design te testen. Dit heb ik gedaan aan de hand van een enquête en observaties. Uit onderzoek blijkt dat zowel mens als dier aangetrokken worden door de natuurlijkheid van een object of verblijf. Zo scoorden natuurlijke verblijven hoger in de enquête en spendeerden de dieren meer aandacht aan natuurlijke vormen van verrijking.

Ons druk stadsleven zorgt ervoor dat er een heuse zoektocht naar een groenere omgeving aan de gang is. Een bezoekje aan de dierentuin lijkt hiervoor de ideale plek maar is dat zo? Al sinds de oprichting van de eerste dierentuinen is er een evolutie aan de gang in verband met de inrichting van de dierentuinverblijven. De verblijven worden steeds natuurlijker maar de verrijking voldoet niet altijd aan deze drang naar natuurlijkheid. Denk maar aan het menselijke speelgoed zoals speeltuigen, ballen, … dat we maar al te vaak in een dierentuin tegen komen.

Het aanbieden van verrijking is noodzakelijk voor de dieren aangezien een leven in gevangenschap stresserend kan zijn, maar speelt de natuurlijkheid van het object een rol? Er werd gekeken naar wat de bezoeker wil zien en waar de dieren het beste op reageren. Om dit te weten te komen werd er een enquête afgenomen bij meer dan vierhonderd personen. Hierin werd gevraagd naar hoe gelukkig de dieren in het verblijf zijn, hoe lang ze gelukkig zullen blijven, hoe goed ze hun natuurlijk gedrag kunnen vertonen en hoe gelukkig je zelf zou zijn als jij het dier was.

Ook werden er observaties uitgevoerd bij twee Canadese lynxen en een bobcat waarbij de reactie van de dieren op natuurlijke verrijkingsobjecten met hun onnatuurlijke variant vergeleken werden.

Uit de enquête blijkt dat alle natuurlijke verblijven - ook degene die helemaal niet geschikt waren voor de afgebeelde diersoort - hoger scoorden op elke gestelde vraag dan hun niet natuurlijke variant. Als we gaan kijken naar onderzoeken die testen welk effect de natuur op de mens heeft, is dit resultaat niet zo verrassend. Wie zou er nu niet in een groene omgeving willen rondwandelen als hiermee je negatieve gevoelens verminderen, je beter problemen kan oplossen, je hartslag en bloeddruk verlaagt, en je je bovendien nog eens gezonder voelt.

En wat blijkt is dat niet alleen de mensen massaal voor natuurlijkheid kiezen. Ook de dieren spendeerden meer tijd en aandacht aan de natuurlijke vormen van verrijking. Zo toonden ze meer interesse in een houtblok en stro, dan in een emmer en krantensnippers.

De boodschap bij het inrichten van een dierentuinverblijf is dus: hoe natuurlijker, hoe beter. Voor zowel mens als dier.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Agro- en biotechnologie dierenzorg
Publicatiejaar
2017
Promotor(en)
Hilde Vervaecke
Kernwoorden
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