First Advisor

Amy Schreier

Second Advisor

Kristofor Voss


Regis College

Degree Name

MS Environmental Biology

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

67 pages


Life in a zoo brings a score of stressors into the lives of captive animals, including artificial light, crowds of visitors, and increased noise levels. Stress especially impacts captive birds, and continued exposure to these stressors can negatively affect birds’ reproductive success and overall well-being. Staff at the Denver Zoo noticed increased aggression between a male and female pair of great Indian hornbills during the winter of 2016. This behavioral shift coincided with Zoo Lights, a holiday event that results in the hornbills’ exhibit remaining open to the public for approximately four extra hours through the entire month of December. Additionally, the hornbills are especially sensitive to stress during the winter because it coincides with their breeding season. With this study, I plan to develop a behavioral profile of the pair of hornbills during three time periods: prior to Zoo Lights, during Zoo Lights, and after Zoo Lights. I will then compare the three time periods in order to examine the effects of the extended operating hours on the hornbills’ behavior. My results will provide the Denver Zoo with insights into the hornbills’ behaviors and will support animal-care recommendations to reduce their stress during Zoo Lights.

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

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