Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amazing Photos! Infrared Images of Elephants at Night

Infrared (IR) photography is a valuable tool in examining the thermoregulation systems of animals.

In these images, taken at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay each color represents a different temperature, so we can see what parts or areas of animals and their environments are cooler, or warmer, than others.

That helps us to learn about how animals regulate their body temperature.

Elephants don’t sweat or pant the way that many mammals do. They are “heat-storers,” whose core body temperatures can rise as much as 11 degrees Farenheit in a day.
What do these Infrared photos show us?

By watching how our elephants shed excess heat into the environment at night, and how they cool-down by trunk-bathing, dusting, shade-seeking, swimming, or ear-flapping during the day, we’re gaining valuable insight into this important aspect of mammalian behavior and biology.

What are the long-term plans for the use of these photos?

With our research collaborators, Dr. Esther Finegan and her graduate students from the University of Guelph (Ontario), we currently have several research projects at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay well underway with elephants, rhinos, and hippos, which should soon yield important scientific publications. In addition to increasing our knowledge of these species, there may be insights pertinent to zoo exhibit design and animal management strategies.

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