Kumar, V., Pradheeps, M., Kokkiligadda, A. et al. 2019. Non-invasive assessment of physiological stress in captive Asian elephants. Animals 9(8), 553.
Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) populations, both in the wild and in captivity, have been continually declining over the decades. The present study examined the physiological stress response of captive Asian elephants in relation to body condition score and different working conditions. A total of 870 dung samples of 37 captive elephants (24 males and 13 females) from four facilities were collected to examine fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations (fGCM). The elephants in forest camps with exposure to natural habitats had a higher body condition score than those in more confined spaces. Wild born elephants and females (except in one case) had higher concentrations of fGCM than captive born elephants and males, respectively. Elephants engaged in the Dussehra festival had elevated fGCM concentrations than their counterparts at Mysore zoo. We recommend a few management practices for the long-term survival of rapidly declining captive elephant populations.