Noninvasive monitoring of adrenocortical activity in carnivores by fecal glucocorticoid analyses

Measurement of glucocorticoid metabolites in feces has become an accepted method for the noninvasive evaluation of adrenocortical activity. The objective of this study was to determine if a simple cortisol enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was suitable for monitoring adrenocortical activity in a variety of carnivore species. Performance of the cortisol EIA was gauged by comparison to […]

Dominance, aggression, and glucocorticoid levels in social carnivores

In social animals, reproductive success is often related to social dominance. In cooperatively breeding birds and mammals, reproductive rates are usually lower for social subordinates than for dominants, and it is common for reproduction in subordinates to be completely suppressed. Early research with captive animals showed that losing fights can increase glucocorticoid (GC) secretion, a […]

Intact carcasses as enrichment for large felids: Effects on on- and off-exhibit behaviors

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.10033.abs Reducing stereotypic behaviors in captive animals is a goal for zoological institutions worldwide, and environmental enrichment is one tool commonly used to meet that end. Behavioral needs associated with feeding, however, are often neglected in large carnivores. To address these needs, I tested the effects of calf carcasses as enrichment for large felids. […]

Scent-marking in captive red pandas (Ailurus fulgens)

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1430080210.abs Three male and three female captive red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) were observed during and outside of the breeding season to examine changes in scent-marking behavior. Variation in scent-marking was analyzed with respect to site preferences, sex differences, onset of breeding, behavioral correlates, and environmental factors. Both males and females exhibited significant preferences for […]

Natural behavioural biology as a risk factor in carnivore welfare: How analysing species differences could help zoos improve enclosures

In captivity, some species often seem to thrive, while others are often prone to breeding problems, poor health, and repetitive stereotypic behaviour. Within carnivores, for instance, the brown bear, American mink and snow leopard typically adapt well to captivity and show few signs of poor welfare, while the clouded leopard and polar bear are generally […]

Enrichment options for African painted dogs (Lycaon pictus)

Best practices for carnivore enrichment encourage the diversity of species-typical behaviors, increased activity, and reduced stereotypic behavior; ideally considering the life-history and behavior of each species. African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus), or painted dogs, are social carnivores that have large home ranges and complex pack dynamics (e.g., variation in group size, relatedness, etc.). As there […]

Environmentally enriching American mink (Neovison vison) increases lymphoid organ weight and skeletal symmetry, and reveals differences between two sub-types of stereotypic behaviour

Enrichment studies for wild carnivores (e.g., in zoos) are often short-term, use enrichments of unknown motivational significance, and focus on glucocorticoids and stereotypic behaviour (SB), ignoring other stress-relevant variables. Our study assessed the broad behavioural and physiological effects of enriching American mink—a model carnivore—with preferred stimuli long-term, and investigated the welfare implications of individual differences […]