Animals in captivity are usually bred with whichever other animal is there with them. Factors like genetics, health, age, and more are taken into consideration, but there are usually slim pickings. The University of Exeter, however, has found one new factor--kindness. In great white pelicans, friendliness leads to much more successful mating between partners. Choosing social groups naturally also influences this decision.
This type of pelican is often found in captivity. In fact, about 1,600 great white pelicans can be found in 180 zoos around the world. Despite this large number, breeding them has proven difficult.
"They are long-lived and so the zoo housed population is made up of [elderly] birds that are coming to the end of their natural lives," says lead author Paul Rose, of the University of Exeter and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT). "It is not ethical to take birds from the wild for animal collections, so zoos need to work together to increase breeding success."
The research found that once birds were able to choose their own social circles, they had much more success in breeding. Just like people, most of these birds would prefer to choose who they are paired up with and want autonomy over their social lives.
"This is an important component of animal welfare," said Rose. "To give animals control and choice over what they do and how they do it."
These birds want more friendships and fewer blind dates!