CZAAWE Resource Article

To hunt or not to hunt? A feeding enrichment experiment with captive large felids
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Zoo Biology
It is often difficult to promote the successful performance of feeding behaviors in zoos, especially for carnivores. Feeding enrichment provides these opportunities and often improves behavioral indications of an animal's well-being and the experience of the zoo visitor. The effectiveness of two different feeding enrichment techniques was evaluated on five subjects in two species of felids: African lions and Sumatran tigers. The activity budgets of each cat were compared before, during, and after enrichment, focusing on activity levels, frequency and variety of feeding behaviors, and occurrence of stereotypic behaviors. The presentation of live fish increased the variety and frequency of feeding behaviors, while presentation of horse leg bones increased the frequency of these behaviors. Fish reduced the tigers' stereotypic behavior from 60% of scans to 30% of scans on the day of presentation, and this change was maintained for 2 days following enrichment. Bone presentation also reduced stereotypic behavior and increased nonstereotypic activity in both species. Both of these techniques appear to have sustained effects on behavior lasting at least 2 days after presentation, which may indicate their ability to alter the animals' underlying activity patterns. Zoo Biol 22:189–198, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.