Development of an environmental enrichment programme: case study of white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis) and jaguar (Panthera onca) at Moscow Zoo

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Aleksei Aleksandrovich Podturkin, Natalia Papaeva
Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research
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Zoos are urged to implement enrichment programmes that include constant feedback to increase efficacy. However, such work is time consuming for zookeepers. The goal of this case study was to establish an enrichment programme in Moscow Zoo that could be used by keepers with minimal effort. In this brief study, an enrichment programme was established for one female white Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris bengalensis) and one female jaguar (Panthera onca). Observations were recorded from February through March 2015. The effects of three enrichment regimes were evaluated: Baseline (routine husbandry: familiar or novel items once or twice a week) compared with two novel intensive regimes: Regime 1 (enrichment provided every day) and Regime 2 (enrichment provided every other day). Two simple methods were used to evaluate the effects of regimes: the “multi-point scan” method where animals’ behaviour was recorded 6 times a day by the keepers as they passed the exhibits during their working day, and “SPIDER indirect scales”. It was found that the use of both methods for documenting behaviour improved the accuracy of evaluations. During Regimes 1 and 2, behaviour directed at enrichment increased for the tiger and jaguar, but changes in general activity were identified only for the tiger. Consequently, the keepers were able to develop an enrichment programme, including the collection of objective empirical data in a time-efficient manner. It is therefore proposed that zoological institutions use enrichment programmes that integrate both “SPI” and “DER” steps into daily work.


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