Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Quirke, T,O'Riordan, RM;
Applied Animal Behaviour Science
The effect of different types of enrichment on the behaviour of cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in captivity
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Cheetah Behaviour Captivity Enrichment Temporal feeding variation Pacing ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT ZOO STEREOTYPIES ANIMALS CATS
Enrichment, in the form of changes to the structure and content of enclosures, in addition to changes to husbandry practice, have been used on a range of felids resulting in increased activity levels and decreased levels of pacing behaviour. It is important to determine what types of enrichment are effective for individual species in captivity. The aim of this research was to test the effect of three different enrichment treatments on the behaviour of cheetahs at Fota Wildlife Park, Ireland. The three treatments; temporal variation in feeding, spatial variation in feeding and olfactory enrichment using scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) faeces were chosen to provide a degree of novelty and unpredictability to the captive environment, with the goal of decreasing pacing while increasing active and exploratory behaviours. Following baseline data collection, treatments were introduced to the five cheetah enclosures according to a schedule, with each treatment being carried out for five days followed by a 14-day post-treatment (PT) period prior to the next treatment being introduced. A Friedmann ANOVA was carried out to test if the schedule of enrichment treatments had an effect on cheetah behaviour. Vigilance behaviour was observed less frequently during treatment and post-treatment phases (4.1-9.5%) compared with the baseline observations (11.1%). Exploratory behaviour fluctuated with the highest level occurring during the olfactory enrichment treatment. There was a trend for pacing to decrease during enrichment treatments. A range of behaviours were also significantly affected at different times of the day by the schedule of treatments. The results were similar to previous enrichment studies on other felids suggesting that the use of these types of enrichment can be an effective form of enrichment for cheetahs in captivity. Individual groups also reacted differently to the enrichment treatments, suggesting that enrichment can have varying effects on behaviour of captive cheetahs depending on group identity and configuration. The schedule of treatments, punctuated by the return to baseline conditions, is also cited as having an enriching effect. Due to different behaviours being affected at different times of day, the question was raised about the use of specific enrichments during periods of time when abnormal behaviour is prevalent. Research on the behavioural effects of a randomised enrichment treatment schedule, rather than a sequential one used in this study may be of benefit, in order to separate the effects of the schedule and the treatments. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2011.05.004
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