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How access to exhibit space impacts the behavior of female tigers (Panthera tigris)



Little is known about how socially housed captive carnivores respond to temporary reductions in available space. We documented rates of aggression and affiliation in our group of six female tigers, under their normal housing conditions and during a period of exhibit renovations which resulted in a 50% reduction in time spent in an outdoor enclosure. During the period of reduced availability of space, significant declines in aggression and affiliation were observed indicating that these tigers responded in a manner consistent with a strategy of conflict avoidance. These reductions in rates of social behavior remained in place during the year following the return to their original housing conditions. Thus, even temporary alterations to housing practices have the potential to have lasting impacts on the social behavior of this species. Zoo Biol 30:479–486, 2011. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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