We are an academic team from The University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine & Science.
We work in collaboration with elephant keepers, animal welfare scientists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in the UK and internationally, with the aim of better understanding and improving captive elephant welfare.
Our work in partnership with this extensive network of colleagues is helping us identify ways to support and improve the well-being of captive elephants globally.
Over the last decade, we developed the Elephant Behavioural Welfare Assessment Tool (EBWAT); the EBWAT is a scientifically validated tool which lets keepers use their behavioural observations of their elephants to assess and monitor their welfare.
To learn the scientific detail of how we developed and tested this tool, and how it works, please read our publication.
The EBWAT has been used routinely by elephant holding zoos and wildlife parks across the UK since 2015, enabling them to monitor the behaviour and welfare of their elephants over time.
Every time a facility uses the EBWAT app to assess their elephants, they receive a summary report which gives a detailed breakdown of their most recent scores. The report also provides graphs and tables which summarise all data, from both the current and all previous submissions, enabling facilities to track and monitor the welfare scores of their elephants over time.
We have asked each facility that uses our app to allow us access to their results to support our continuing research to further understand and improve captive elephant welfare. The results from all participating facilities are stored in a large and secure database at the University of Nottingham. This database will be one of the largest repositories of captive elephant behavioural data in the world. We will scientifically evaluate all collected information to learn how elephant behaviour is influenced by their individual circumstances. We can then use this information to help us provide better advice to captive elephant facilities on what they can do to encourage positive welfare in their elephants.
Ultimately, these ongoing research efforts will increase our understanding of what is needed to provide the best possible welfare for captive elephants around the globe.
To read our published research papers, please click here.
We are sharing our app with colleagues working at elephant facilities around the globe, as well as providing advice on how they can use information attained from the app to encourage positive welfare in their elephants.
As with any such project, there are a lot of ongoing costs associated with this work (to maintain the online user dashboard and database, technological support, promotional efforts etc). Despite these costs, we believe it is essential to provide our app and the app data reports completely free of charge to anyone that is caring for elephants – we do not want finances to be a barrier to a facility using our tool to improve their elephants’ wellbeing.
We therefore urgently need your support, so we can keep offering this app free of charge and continue our work to help captive elephants across the world.