|Behavior and use of enclosure space by captive felids at the John Ball Zoo|
|Isabel Thompson, Kylie Galla, Jodee Hunt. Grand Valley State University , Allendale, MI, United States
Zoos exhibit wild cats in enclosures that differ in size & complexity in comparison to natural habitats. These differences change natural behavior patterns, but the ways enclosure space & features influence behavior of individual cats are poorly understood. We studied behavioral patterns in tigers, lynx, and lions at John Ball Zoo (west Michigan). We used ZooMonitor, an application supporting collection of spatially explicit behavioral data, to quantify behavior in > 200 sessions of 30-minute bouts of all-occurrences interval sampling. Time of day and individual variation were major factors affecting overall activity patterns and expression of specific behaviors. Heat map analysis showed that animals express particular behaviors (i.e.sleeping, pacing) in specific locations, and that features like water pools & vegetation promote a range of positive behaviors. Animals housed within the same enclosure differed in their use of space, suggesting individuality in responses to the captive environment. Male tigers appeared to partition space when housed socially. Captive animals benefit from enclosure complexity, information that can be used by zoo personnel to improve animal welfare.