Vocalizations and other behavioral responses of male cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) during experimental separation and reunion trials

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
C. R. Ruiz-Miranda, S. A. Wells, R. Golden, J. Seidensticker
Zoo Biology
A Wiley Company, Inc., Wiley Subscription Services
, , , , ,

Abstract 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2361(1998)17:1<1::AID-ZOO1>3.3.CO;2-8 In this study we assessed the extent of psychological attachment between male cheetahs living in same sex pairs in zoos by recording the behavior and vocalizations of two male coalitions (siblings and nonsiblings) during four experimental separations and reunions of each coalition. Both coalitions showed higher vocalization rates and walking rates during separations than during reunions, and during separations cheetahs spent less time resting and more time vocalizing, walking, or standing than during baseline observations. Compared to the nonsibling coalition, the sibling coalition showed a significantly higher vocalization rate during separations and more affiliative behavior during reunions. The most common calls emitted during separations were chirps, followed by eeaows and stutters. The chirps showed the highest level of individual distinctiveness. Eeaows comprised a significantly higher percentage of the calls during separations for nonsiblings that for siblings. The only vocalization heard during reunion was the stutter. We hypothesize that chirps emitted during separations communicate desire to reunite, individual identity, and have a structure that facilitates locating the caller. The results of this study suggest that male cheetahs, both sibling and nonsibling, develop strong psychological attachments to each other. The separation of existing coalitions can create stressful conditions for coalition members. We suggest that raising and maintaining coalitions of male cheetahs in coalitions in zoos is a viable husbandry technique. Zoo Biol 17:1–16, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Back to Resources