Characterization and correlations of behavioral and adrenocortical activities of zoo-housed lesser anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Gabina V. Eguizabal, Rupert Palme, Mariella Superina, Camila J. Asencio, Maria C. Garcia Capocasa, Juan M. Busso
Zoo Biology
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We characterized behavioral and adrenocortical activities of Tamandua tetradactyla under human care driven by the hypothesis that they vary between males and females. We also assessed the potential association between natural or abnormal behaviors and adrenocortical activity. We kept females and males T. tetradactyla in individual, contiguous enclosures at Cordoba Zoo (Argentina), under natural photoperiod and temperature. During 29 consecutive days we monitored the animals’ behavior by recording their activity pattern every 5 min using infrared cameras (8352 records/individual). We collected all feces and measured fecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) with an 11-oxoaetiocholanolone enzyme immunoassay. We found individual differences in all behavioral variables. We detected that females exhibited lower total activity than males (23.8 [plus or minus] 0.2% and 32.3 [plus or minus] 0.3%, respectively; p = .005). Females were more active at night and males during the day (p < .05) and exhibited less abnormal behaviors than males (p = .05). Although we did not find sex-related differences for average FGM, we detected individual differences (p < .0001). We found that daily FGM showed negative (-0.39) and positive (0.38) correlations with natural and abnormal behaviors, respectively (p < .0001). Thus, we consider that individual input and sex are factors to be considered in stress responses of the species in captivity. Natural and abnormal behaviors may demand different levels of adrenocortical activity. Our findings may prove useful as normative data for ex situ management of conservation programs.


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