Acta Vet. Brno 2019, 88: 85-92

The effects of transport stress on the behaviour and adrenocortical activity of the black-and-white ruffed lemur (Varecia variegata)

Martina Volfová1, Zuzana Machovcová1, Franz Schwarzenberger2, Eva Voslářová1, Iveta Bedáňová1, Vladimír Večerek1

1University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, Department of Animal Protection, Welfare and Behaviour, Brno, Czech Republic
2University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Austria

Received November 19, 2018
Accepted February 12, 2019

The aim of this study was to assess behavioural and glucocorticoid changes in black-and-white ruffed lemur females transported for breeding purposes between Czech ZOOs. The frequency of the presented behaviour elements was recorded via direct observation. The faecal samples were collected from the floor and subsequently the faecal glucocorticoid values were determined using specifically designed assays for faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) analysis. While the frequency of certain comfort behaviour patterns decreased (P < 0.05) in response to transport and change of the environment, grooming, resting, sleeping as well as playful behaviour (chasing, climbing) were not affected (P > 0.05). No changes were found in the frequency of behaviour connected to metabolic events with the exception of defecation. Lemur females defecated more frequently (P < 0.05) in their new environment. The frequency of neither fear nor exploratory behaviour differed (P > 0.05) before and after transport. The positive effect of the novelty was shown by the reduction (P < 0.01) of behavioural signs of frustration and stereotypical behaviour after transport. In response to transport, a significant (P < 0.05) increase of FGM levels was found the second day after the transport, reaching peak levels in the morning and starting to decline to baseline levels in the afternoon. The results of both behaviour and adrenocortical activity analysis suggest that despite some presented changes in the monitored indices prior and after transport, the transportation under the studied conditions presented only a mild stressor with limited behavioural and glucocorticoid responses.


The authors of this study thank the Olomouc and Brno ZOOs, namely, zoologist Ing. Jitka Vokurková and Ing. Dorota Gremlicová, curator of mammals, for making the research possible. Also many thanks for the advice to Prof. Rupert Palme of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, and Edith Klobetz Rassam and Elke Leitner for technical assistance with the EIA analysis.


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