Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program


Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

William Rogers

Committee Member

Janice Chism

Committee Member

Kristi Westover


A comprehensive study on the behavioral effects of feeding enrichment was conducted on six African elephants housed at the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro, NC. The herd is comprised of are two adult males, three adult females, and one subadult female. The study was conducted over a 10-month period and consisted of focal sample observations across three conditions. Observations were recorded during the baseline condition (June to September) and continued through the introduction of feeding enrichment. Behavioral data were also collected when enrichment items were present but food presentation followed the historical husbandry routine, known as the experimental control (October to April). Data were collected on ten behaviors and analyzed to test for significant changes in the behaviors as a group, between the sexes, and for individual animals. The patterns that emerged from analysis for the herd as a whole did not necessarily apply to the analyses based on sex or for a given individual. In addition, individual elephants varied in the longevity of their behavioral changes to the feeding enrichment. These results provide evidence for the efficacy of feeding enrichment in general as well as for unique personalities and reactions to such enrichment. Furthermore, the findings of this study should encourage zoos to employ individual monitoring to enhance each elephant’s well-being.