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Keywords:

  • management;
  • solitary;
  • social;
  • welfare;
  • Panthera tigris

Abstract

The systematic evaluation of changes in animal management practices is critical to ensuring the best possible welfare. Here, we examined the behavioral impacts of intermittently housing our six adult female tigers, who have been housed socially for much of their lives, individually overnight to allow for specialized care required by their advancing age. We looked for behavioral changes indicative of both positive and negative changes in welfare by monitoring time spent asleep, sleeping position, body position while awake, as well as pacing, door pounding, self-grooming, roaring, and chuffing while housed socially as compared to individually overnight. Housing condition did not affect time spent asleep, sleeping positions assumed or the more preferred body positions while awake. Further, pacing, door-pounding, and roaring were infrequent and not altered by housing condition. Self-grooming did increase when housed individually but no evidence of over-grooming was present and chuffing, a close proximity social vocalization, was more likely to occur when socially housed. Taken together, these findings support the notion that transitioning to individual housing as needed is a viable option for managing cats accustomed to being maintained in a social group. Zoo Biol. 32:189–194, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals Inc.