More about Ellen
I am interested in how we can use the study of behaviour to help to maximise the welfare of animals in captivity, by looking at how factors associated with captivity (such as limited space or floor types and lack of opportunity to choose social partners) and individual personalities affect behaviour. My main focus throughout my career has been on zoo housed elephants. My current study is focusing on social behaviour but during previous work I have investigated sleep behaviour and helped to develop a tool to assess the welfare of zoo housed elephants through regular behavioural monitoring.
During my current study I am investigating social structures and social interactions in European zoo elephant herds and associated factors. I am principally looking at whether social interactions and physical proximity are affected by factors at both an individual level (personality, age, sex, relatedness etc.) and at a zoo level (number of years herd housed together, group size etc.). The results from this study will contribute towards improvements in zoo elephant welfare by enabling evidence-based recommendations to be made with regards to appropriate social groups.
Director of Studies: Dr Samantha Bremner-Harrison