The effects of physical characteristics of the environment and feeding regime on the behavior of captive felids



The behavior of captive felids is influenced by enclosure design and management regime. The behavior of nine felid species housed in 11 enclosures was recorded using instantaneous scan sampling. Stereotypic pacing was observed in 15 out of 19 individuals. Size of enclosure did not affect pacing behavior, but edges of enclosures were found to be used specifically for pacing behavior. Cats in relatively larger enclosures had a higher level of apparent movement, but only about 50% of enclosure space was used. Raised areas such as tree branches were found to be preferred sites in enclosures, particularly for observation of surroundings. The feeding regime was found to affect stereotypic pacing levels. Cats fed on a 3 day cycle paced more on fast days than on days they were fed. Although not statistically significant, 6 out of 7 of these cats paced more in the hour after feeding, whereas the cats fed daily paced more in the hour before feeding. Further research is required to understand the relationship between feeding and stereotypic behavior. Zoo Biol 16:71–83, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.