An investigation into the Behavior, Sociality and Enclosure Use of Group-Housed Lions and Tigers

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Elena Giulia Galardi, Martina Fabbroni, Fabio A Rausa, Richard Preziosi, James Edward Brereton, Giovanni Quintavalle
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It is common practice in zoological collections to house lions (Panthera leo) in prides, yet other felid species are typically housed in pairs or singly. This study investigated the effects of group-housing on a pride of 21 lions, and 10 tigers (Panthera tigris) at the Fasano Zoo, Italy. Both species were housed in large, safari-style exhibits, allowing animals to either interact with or avoid conspecifics. For both species, measures included behavioral sampling, sociality and assessment of enclosure use. The study revealed that lions spend comparatively more time engaged in social behavior, whereas tigers spent more time engaged in locomotion and maintenance activities such as grooming. There was no difference in aggression levels between the two species. Social network maps identified that tigers tended to divide into small, social units, associating with one or two preferred individuals and generally avoiding others. Lions on the other hand appeared to associate in species-typical prides. With the size of the enclosure and the number of individuals, the
group appeared to separate into two well-differentiated prides. Enclosure zone use supported these findings across both species, showing that for tigers, enclosure zones tended to be used by only a few individuals. By contrast, there were shared enclosure zones which were frequented by members of the two prides, yet relatively little crossover in space use between the two groups. The study suggests that for well-established socially-housed tiger groups, aggression may not always be elevated and group-housing might be tolerated under certain circumstances, though more research would be beneficial before conclusions are drawn.


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