Measuring the Strength of Human–Animal Bonds in Zoos

Geoff Hosey, Lynda Birke, Wendy S. Shaw, Vicky Melfi

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Repeated interactions within individual human and animal dyads can lead to the establishment of human–animal relationships (HARs), which may vary in quality from good to bad, defined in terms of the positivity (e.g., friendly contact, play) or negativity (e.g., aggression) of the interactions on which they are based. Particularly good HARs can be regarded as Human– Animal Bonds (HABs) if they are reciprocal and promote wellbeing in both parties. Although there is extensive evidence of the effects of HARs in agricultural animals and HABs in companion animals, there has been less investigation of these relationships in zoos, even though the development of HARs/HABs between zoo animals and their keepers could have important consequences for the welfare of both. Here we apply a modified version of the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) in a zoo setting to quantify the strength of attachment of a sample of 22 keepers to the animals in their care at the zoo (ZA), in comparison with their attachment to their companion animals at home (PA). Results showed that mean PA scores (47.54 ± 3.6) were significantly higher than mean ZA scores (32.89 ± 2.6; t = –5.16, df = 13, p < 0.001), indicating stronger attachment to the companion animals. PA scores were lower in keepers who thought it inappropriate to have a bond with a zoo animal, compared with those who deemed it appropriate. Thus, HABs do appear to occur in the zoo context, though they are weaker than those developed in the home. This work also shows that a modified LAPS questionnaire is a suitable instrument for further investigation of HABs in zoos.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalAnthrozoos
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date3 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

human-animal relations
zoos
pets
animal
Pets
zoo animals
Zoo Animals
animal care
aggression
animals
questionnaires
Aggression
interaction
dyad

Keywords

  • Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale
  • human–animal bond
  • human–animal relationship
  • zookeepers

Cite this

Hosey, Geoff ; Birke, Lynda ; Shaw, Wendy S. ; Melfi, Vicky. / Measuring the Strength of Human–Animal Bonds in Zoos. In: Anthrozoos. 2018 ; Vol. 31, No. 3. pp. 273-281.
@article{be92d77e988340a08b1b14b75fd873af,
title = "Measuring the Strength of Human–Animal Bonds in Zoos",
abstract = "Repeated interactions within individual human and animal dyads can lead to the establishment of human–animal relationships (HARs), which may vary in quality from good to bad, defined in terms of the positivity (e.g., friendly contact, play) or negativity (e.g., aggression) of the interactions on which they are based. Particularly good HARs can be regarded as Human– Animal Bonds (HABs) if they are reciprocal and promote wellbeing in both parties. Although there is extensive evidence of the effects of HARs in agricultural animals and HABs in companion animals, there has been less investigation of these relationships in zoos, even though the development of HARs/HABs between zoo animals and their keepers could have important consequences for the welfare of both. Here we apply a modified version of the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) in a zoo setting to quantify the strength of attachment of a sample of 22 keepers to the animals in their care at the zoo (ZA), in comparison with their attachment to their companion animals at home (PA). Results showed that mean PA scores (47.54 ± 3.6) were significantly higher than mean ZA scores (32.89 ± 2.6; t = –5.16, df = 13, p < 0.001), indicating stronger attachment to the companion animals. PA scores were lower in keepers who thought it inappropriate to have a bond with a zoo animal, compared with those who deemed it appropriate. Thus, HABs do appear to occur in the zoo context, though they are weaker than those developed in the home. This work also shows that a modified LAPS questionnaire is a suitable instrument for further investigation of HABs in zoos.",
keywords = "Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale, human–animal bond, human–animal relationship, zookeepers",
author = "Geoff Hosey and Lynda Birke and Shaw, {Wendy S.} and Vicky Melfi",
year = "2018",
month = "5",
day = "4",
doi = "10.1080/08927936.2018.1455448",
language = "English",
volume = "31",
pages = "273--281",
journal = "Anthrozoos",
issn = "0892-7936",
publisher = "Berg Publishers",
number = "3",

}

Measuring the Strength of Human–Animal Bonds in Zoos. / Hosey, Geoff; Birke, Lynda; Shaw, Wendy S.; Melfi, Vicky.

In: Anthrozoos, Vol. 31, No. 3, 04.05.2018, p. 273-281.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Measuring the Strength of Human–Animal Bonds in Zoos

AU - Hosey, Geoff

AU - Birke, Lynda

AU - Shaw, Wendy S.

AU - Melfi, Vicky

PY - 2018/5/4

Y1 - 2018/5/4

N2 - Repeated interactions within individual human and animal dyads can lead to the establishment of human–animal relationships (HARs), which may vary in quality from good to bad, defined in terms of the positivity (e.g., friendly contact, play) or negativity (e.g., aggression) of the interactions on which they are based. Particularly good HARs can be regarded as Human– Animal Bonds (HABs) if they are reciprocal and promote wellbeing in both parties. Although there is extensive evidence of the effects of HARs in agricultural animals and HABs in companion animals, there has been less investigation of these relationships in zoos, even though the development of HARs/HABs between zoo animals and their keepers could have important consequences for the welfare of both. Here we apply a modified version of the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) in a zoo setting to quantify the strength of attachment of a sample of 22 keepers to the animals in their care at the zoo (ZA), in comparison with their attachment to their companion animals at home (PA). Results showed that mean PA scores (47.54 ± 3.6) were significantly higher than mean ZA scores (32.89 ± 2.6; t = –5.16, df = 13, p < 0.001), indicating stronger attachment to the companion animals. PA scores were lower in keepers who thought it inappropriate to have a bond with a zoo animal, compared with those who deemed it appropriate. Thus, HABs do appear to occur in the zoo context, though they are weaker than those developed in the home. This work also shows that a modified LAPS questionnaire is a suitable instrument for further investigation of HABs in zoos.

AB - Repeated interactions within individual human and animal dyads can lead to the establishment of human–animal relationships (HARs), which may vary in quality from good to bad, defined in terms of the positivity (e.g., friendly contact, play) or negativity (e.g., aggression) of the interactions on which they are based. Particularly good HARs can be regarded as Human– Animal Bonds (HABs) if they are reciprocal and promote wellbeing in both parties. Although there is extensive evidence of the effects of HARs in agricultural animals and HABs in companion animals, there has been less investigation of these relationships in zoos, even though the development of HARs/HABs between zoo animals and their keepers could have important consequences for the welfare of both. Here we apply a modified version of the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS) in a zoo setting to quantify the strength of attachment of a sample of 22 keepers to the animals in their care at the zoo (ZA), in comparison with their attachment to their companion animals at home (PA). Results showed that mean PA scores (47.54 ± 3.6) were significantly higher than mean ZA scores (32.89 ± 2.6; t = –5.16, df = 13, p < 0.001), indicating stronger attachment to the companion animals. PA scores were lower in keepers who thought it inappropriate to have a bond with a zoo animal, compared with those who deemed it appropriate. Thus, HABs do appear to occur in the zoo context, though they are weaker than those developed in the home. This work also shows that a modified LAPS questionnaire is a suitable instrument for further investigation of HABs in zoos.

KW - Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale

KW - human–animal bond

KW - human–animal relationship

KW - zookeepers

U2 - 10.1080/08927936.2018.1455448

DO - 10.1080/08927936.2018.1455448

M3 - Journal Article

VL - 31

SP - 273

EP - 281

JO - Anthrozoos

JF - Anthrozoos

SN - 0892-7936

IS - 3

ER -