CZAAWE Resource Article

The Effects of Visitor Density and Intensity on the Behavior of Two Captive Jaguars (Panthera onca)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2005
Authors 
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Abstract 
Several researchers have reported significant effects of visitor density and intensity on captive animal behavior. This study determined whether this was the case for 2 captive jaguars housed at the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA. Subjects were monitored for changes in behavior as a function of visitor density and intensity. The jaguars were observed for 8 hr per week for 29 weeks--March 31 until October 11, 1998--for a total of 230 hr. Continuous frequency sampling was used, and visitor density and intensity were recorded every minute. Parametric statistics were used to test for correlations between behavior and density, intensity, or a combination of the two. Both density and intensity were significant for time spent non-visible for both cats, and intensity showed a significant effect on the female's pacing behavior. In addition, the male cat exhibited a trend for increased aggression based on both visitor density and intensity and a trend of intensity affecting his social behavior. In conclusion, both density and intensity had a significant effect on behavior, with intensity showing a larger effect.