A NEW app which monitors the welfare of elephants is being utilised by Noah's Ark Zoo Farm.

The zoo farm, which is also a registered charity, aims to use the app to collect data on their captive elephants, which could identify changes that improve their welfare.

The app itself, called the Elephant Welfare App (EWA), was designed by researchers at the University of Nottingham.

 Dr. Lisa Yon, associate professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine & Science at the University of Nottingham, led the team which developed the app. 

Dr Yon said: "Both African and Asian elephants are now endangered in the wild and are at great risk of extinction. Zoo elephants may represent an important population for conservation of these species and it is therefore important to ensure their well-being, but also contribute to their improved chances of survival so that they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.

“Caring for elephants is an immense privilege but also a challenge. It is therefore essential that we identify what are the most essential, and feasible factors that can encourage the expression of natural behaviours and positive welfare.”

Every time a user uploads data onto the app, they are sent a detailed report containing graphs and tables, which provide a summary of the  behavioural  observations entered for that elephant over time. 

All data is secured at the University of Nottingham.

African elephants Shaka, Janu and Sutton are able to enjoy a new 5,000sqm plantation within the zoo farm, complete with a wide range of vegetation and elephant-friendly snacks. This is located within the elephant enclosure. Keepers will use the app to monitor how each elephant responds to its environment.

Elephant section leader, Tom Lindley said: "We believe that our elephant enclosure at Noah’s Ark Zoo is one of the best facilities for elephants in the world, providing top-notch welfare, but we are always keen to learn new ways in which to improve and maintain elephant welfare. 

"The app, designed by the team at the University of Nottingham, allows us to make timely judgements about our elephants’ welfare by documenting their behaviour. This information helps us ensure that their welfare is the best that it can be at any point in time.’’