Variation in stereotypic behavior related to restraint in circus elephants Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of penning and chaining on circus elephant behavior. The behaviors of 10 Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and three African elephants (Loxodonta africana) were videotaped for at least 24 hours at each of six performance locations. At four of these locations, the elephants were restrained in electric-wire pens on turf and at two locations the elephants were restrained via leg chains on macadam. Instantaneous scan sampling at 5-minute intervals during each observation period was conducted to determine the frequency of occurrence of seven behavior categories: aggression, comfort, ingestion, locomotion, resting, social, and stereotypy. Stereotypies and social interaction (P < 0.0008) were more likely with chained restraint; comfort, ingestion, and locomotion activities were less likely (P < 0.0037) with chained restraint, whereas aggression and resting activities were not affected by type of restraint (P > 0.6254). Variation in stereotypic activity was related to age (P = 0.0001), with younger elephants more likely to show stereotypic activity than older elephants. Zoo Biol 19:209-221, 2000. ©2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

author list (cited authors)

  • Gruber, T. M., Friend, T. H., Gardner, J. M., Packard, J. M., Beaver, B., & Bushong, D.

citation count

  • 23

publication date

  • January 2000