Elephants are one of the most difficult species to keep in captivity. Providing elephants with a captive environment which allows the animal to maintain an adequate welfare has long been recognized as a challenge due to their social, psychological and physical needs. It has been suggested that the social and physical environment affects their resting behaviour. In the present study, the resting behaviour and interindividual distances while resting of three African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and five Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) were assessed at night when housed indoors during the winter season. In the Asian elephants, possible differences in resting behaviour when housed on different substrates and different group constellations were additionally analysed. I found that all three African elephants engaged in standing and lying rest on concrete and all spent more time in lying rest than standing rest per night. Further, I found that the African elephants rested for >240 minutes per night whereas four of the five Asian elephants spent >300 minutes resting. The results also showed that the conditions under which the Asian elephants were kept affected the time spent resting and resting position. Three of the Asian elephants only engaged in lying rest on sand whereas one female and the calf engaged in lying rest on concrete and sand. Interindividual distances and time spent resting within close proximity of one or more conspecifics varied among individuals with most of the elephants spending a high proportion of time resting within close proximity of a conspecific.
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Last updated: 05/23/17