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Personality assessment in snow leopards (Uncia uncia)

Authors


Correspondence to: Marieke Cassia Gartner, Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JZ, UK.

Abstract

Knowledge of individual personality is a useful tool in animal husbandry and can be used effectively to improve welfare. This study assessed personality in snow leopards (Uncia uncia) by examining their reactions to six novel objects and comparing them to personality assessments based on a survey completed by zookeepers. The objectives were to determine whether these methods could detect differences in personality, including age and sex differences, and to assess whether the two methods yielded comparable results. Both keeper assessments and novel object tests identified age, sex, and individual differences in snow leopards. Five dimensions of personality were found based on keepers' ratings: Active/Vigilant, Curious/Playful, Calm/Self-Assured, Timid/Anxious, and Friendly to Humans. The dimension Active/Vigilant was significantly positively correlated with the number of visits to the object, time spent locomoting, and time spent in exploratory behaviors. Curious/Playful was significantly positively correlated with the number of visits to the object, time spent locomoting, and time spent in exploratory behaviors. However, other dimensions (Calm/Self-Assured, Friendly to Humans, and Timid/Anxious) did not correlate with novel-object test variables and possible explanations for this are discussed. Thus, some of the traits and behaviors were correlated between assessment methods, showing the novel-object test to be useful in assessing an animal's personality should a keeper be unable to, or to support a keeper's assessment. Zoo Biol 31: 151–165, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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