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Behavioural enrichment of wild boars and wolves at Wildwood, Kent

This project will investigate the impact of enrichment on the behaviour and welfare of wild boars and wolves.

Department: Agriculture, Agriculture, Policy and Development

Supervised by: Dr Jennie C. Litten-Brown

The Placement Project

This unique opportunity has arisen due to new collaborations established with Wildwood in Kent following work they have done with Countryfile on the BBC. Wildwood are keen to support research where it benefits the welfare of the animals in their collection and these 2 projects have come from discussion with the staff as to work which would be advantageous to the animals. The species in question are the wild boar (Sus scrofa) and European wolves (Canis lupus lupus). In summer 2002 Wildwood moved its small family group of boar (then three adults and seven piglets) from a coppice woodland enclosure they had occupied for two years to a new enclosure in a nearby conifer plantation but what is the effect on the environment and the animals? Wildwood has a family pack of wolves as well as two hand-reared sisters which are kept beside but separate from the main pack. The animal keepers spend all their working hours looking after their animals but they rarely have time to stop and observe their behaviour. The staff are interested in the observations of daily behaviour, hierarchies and dominance as well as the results of enrichment trials and welcome findings. The student involved in this project would work on the species mentioned, one on the wild boar and the other on the wolves, they would collect behavioural data, devise and test enrichment techniques and write up their findings in a report to present back to the staff at Wildwood.

Tasks

The students will each be responsible for identifying possible enrichment for the animals by research and working alongside the keepers as well as collecting the behavioural data. Once the data has been collated, the students will complete the data analysis and we will co-write a report. It is envisaged that the first 6 weeks will be spent completing the data collection phase and the final 2 weeks will be spent completing the analysis (including the statistical analysis) and report writing. There is some flexibility in timing as the data collection involves working with animals which can be unpredictable.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

The student must be patient, hard working and interested in the welfare of animals. Previous experience with analytical software may benefit the student but they will be given full training to ensure the work is completed to a professional standard.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

The student will gain valuable experience of the day-to-day running of a trial, in data collection and statistical analysis (using Minitab), evaluation of the work and finally in report writing. The students will gain specialist skills in the evaluation of observational research and ‘behind the scenes’ of working with captive animals. The research will provide the student with a unique opportunity to work closely with both professional researchers and captive animals. I would envisage that the completed work will be published, possibly at the British Society of Animal Science annual conference which will allow the student to gain the experience of attending and presenting work at a conference.

Place of Work

Wildwood, Kent and SAPD

Hours of Work

Monday-Friday 0900-1700 but can be flexible

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Unknown - Unknown

How to Apply

Please apply by letter + CV to j.c.litten-brown@reading.ac.uk


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