A comparative study of the influence of social housing conditions on the behaviour of captive tigers (Panthera tigris)
Nowadays, zoos are increasingly concerned with animal welfare as public expectations and knowledge of the needs of captive animals increases. Although many zoos try to provide all sorts of enrichment for their big cats, the importance of social enrichment is not yet fully understood. This study investigates the effect of different social housing conditions on the behaviour exhibited by captive tigers (Panthera tigris). It was found that paired tigers performed a wider variety of behaviours than single tigers (mostly direct social interactions). Single animals spent significantly more time rolling, auto-playing and performing flehmen. Moreover, paired tigers without neighbouring tigers exhibited significantly less pacing than those with neighbouring tigers. These results suggest that housing tigers in pairs is preferable for the animals as they are able to perform a wider range of natural behaviours, and that the presence of neighbouring tigers causes stress and frustration, and hence more pacing.
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