Comparison of several types of enrichment for captive felids



Enrichment can increase the complexity of the captive environment and possibly enhance captive animals' well-being by stimulating active behaviors and reducing stereotypical behaviors commonly seen in zoo felids. In this study, three different enrichment items were added to outdoor enclosures of felids at the Montgomery Zoo to test their effects on activity levels and stereotypic pacing. Bones, frozen fish, and spices (cinnamon, chili powder, and cumin) were presented over a 3-month period to six species of felids: cheetah, cougar, jaguar, lion, ocelot, and tiger. Proportion of time spent engaging in active behaviors and stereotypic pacing were compared before, during, and after treatments. All treatments resulted in a significant increase in activity level from baseline (bones: +15.59%; frozen fish: +35.7%; spices: +12.38%). Effects of enrichment items on activity levels were not sustained 7 days after removal. Proportion of time spent pacing significantly decreased during presentation of spices (−21.25%) and frozen fish (−26.58%), but not with the addition of bones. However, only the effect of frozen fish on stereotypic behavior was sustained 7 days after removal of the enrichment item. In conclusion, bones, spices, and frozen fish are inexpensive and easy-to-administer enrichment items that may be used to increase active behaviors of captive felids. Zoo Biol 26:371–381, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.