Lizzie Webber (Catherine Elizabeth)

PhD Research Student

Elephant Picture 3, Lizzie WebberMSc Wild Animal Biology, Royal Veterinary College & Institute of Zoology, (2008).
BSc Zoology, University of Aberdeen, (2005).
1) Prof. Phyllis C. Lee (University of Stirling).
2) Dr. Sarah-Jane Vick (University of Stirling).
Dr. Sonya P. Hill (NEZS, Chester Zoo)

Start Date: 1st October, 2010.

tel: +44 (0)1786 466379
twitter: @Trunk_n_Tails

Research Project

Behavioural Development of Elephant Calves in Relation to Captive Welfare

Our understanding of early elephant development is limited, lacking studies on normal social and physical development of wild Asian elephant calves. Given problems of sustaining captive elephant populations, and welfare and wellbeing implications, we urgently need to assess and improve the welfare of calves in captive facilities.

The physical and social development of elephant calves in captivity will be quantified in addition to collecting data on interactions between mothers and calves. This data will then be compared against baselines derived from wild calves in order to develop welfare indicators for rearing calves in captivity. Both captive African and Asian elephant calves will be studied in three UK zoos and wild Asian elephants will be studied in Uda Walawe National Park (UWNP), Sri Lanka. The project also has access to existing datasets of wild African calves from Amboseli, Kenya.

Calf survival is key to understanding population viability for both captive and wild populations. The study will also explore how physical growth and development relate to survival, stress, health and wellbeing.

This project will address gaps in our understanding of early elephant development, and will underpin welfare improvements for elephant calves managed in captive breeding facilities.


Funding Acknowledgements

Thanks to Chester Zoo and Longleat Safari & Adventure Park for generous funding.

Elephant Picture 2, Lizzie WebberElephant Picture 1, Lizzie Webber



  • Webber, C.E., Sereivathana, T., Maltby, M.P. & Lee, P.C. (2011) Elephant Crop-Raiding and Human Elephant Conflict in Cambodia. Oryx 45 (2), 243–251.
  • Lee, P.C., Bussiére, L., Webber, C.E., Poole, J.H. & Moss C.J. (2013) Enduring Consequences of Early Experiences: 40 Year Effects on Survival and Success among African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) Biology Letters, 9, 20130011. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2013.0011.
  • de Silva, S. Webber, C.E., Weerathunga, U.S., Pushpakumara, T.V., Tharanga, J.S., Weerakoon, D. & Wittemyer, G. (2013) Demographic Variables for Wild Asian Elephants Using Longitudinal Observations. PLoS ONE 8 (12): e82788. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082788.
  • Lee, P.C., Fishlock, V., Webber., C.E. & Moss, C.J. (2016) The reproductive advantages of a long life: longevity and senescence in wild female African elephants (Loxodonta africana). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology


Professional Memberships

Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London

Zoological Society of London, Student Fellow

Behaviour and Evolution Research Group, University of Stirling (BERG)

The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)

Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB)

Scottish Primate Research Group  (SPRG)

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
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