Frustrated Appetitive Foraging Behavior, Stereotypic Pacing, and Fecal Glucocorticoid Levels in Snow Leopards (Uncia uncia) in the Zurich Zoo

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Nicole Burgener, Markus Gusseta, Hans Schmidb
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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This study hypothesized that permanently frustrated, appetitive-foraging behavior caused the stereotypic pacing regularly observed in captive carnivores. Using 2 adult female snow leopards (Uncia uncia), solitarily housed in the Zurich Zoo, the study tested this hypothesis experimentally with a novel feeding method: electronically controlled, time-regulated feeding boxes. The expected result of employing this active foraging device as a successful coping strategy was reduced behavioral and physiological measures of stress, compared with a control-feeding regime without feeding boxes. The study assessed this through behavioral observations and by evaluating glucocorticoid levels noninvasively from feces. Results indicated that the 2 snow leopards did not perform successful coping behavior through exercising active foraging behavior or through displaying the stereotypic pacing. The data support a possible explanation: The box-feeding method did not provide the 2 snow leopards with the external stimuli to satisfy their appetitive behavioral needs. Moreover, numerous other factors not necessarily or exclusively related to appetitive behavior could have caused and influenced the stereotypic pacing.


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