CZAAWE Resource Article

Behavioral solutions to breeding cheetahs in captivity: Insights from the wild
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
Abstract 10.1002/zoo.1430120105.abs Knowledge of cheetahs' behavior is increasingly seen as the key to solving the mystery of cheetahs' poor breeding performance in captivity. In the absence of zoos' maintaining systematic records of individuals' behavior during introductions, behavior of free-living animals can be informative. In the wild, most female cheetahs probably mate with males living in small groups or coalitions; thus, zoos may benefit from replicating these social conditions, provided injuries can be minimized. Relations between free-living coalition members are amicable, and escalated aggression was never witnessed during 4 years of observation. Some antagonism was seen in newly formed trios, although this had disappeared in longer established coalitions. Minor aggression occurred over carcasses, being greater at small and intermediate sized kills than at large ones. In the presence of females, mild intramale aggression was only seen within 1 of 7 coalitions. Free-living females showed similar rates of behavior in the presence of different numbers of males, aside from more frequent growling at large groups. These findings suggest that captive institutions should be less nervous about housing male cheetahs together and introducing females to groups of males for purposes of breeding. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.