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Enrichment for captive tigers (Panthera tigris): Current knowledge and future directions

By Monika S. Szokalski, Carla A. Litchfield, Wendy K. Foster

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Environmental enrichment is a common approach for addressing stereotypic behaviour in captive animals. Like many big cats, tigers (Panthera tigris) are renowned for their stereotypic pacing, yet relatively little is known about optimal enrichment for this species. Given the large proportion of time wild tigers spend engaged in hunting, feeding, and territorial behaviours, research to date has focused almost primarily on enrichment devices and techniques that stimulate these. Success has been found in novel food items, altered feeding routines and food displays, and novel toys/objects; olfactory stimulation via the introduction of novel scents and enclosure rotations; and increases in enclosure size. In contrast, little attention has been paid to social enrichment. Although various zoos house tigers in social groups, the limited literature investigating this offers conflicting conclusions about the effects on the animals. Further, human-tiger interaction has been ignored in the literature, despite its increasing occurrence. With more tigers existing in captivity than in the wild, it is imperative that our understanding of tiger enrichment is expanded, particularly with regard to these underdeveloped areas.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 139
Issue 1
Pages 1-9
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.02.021
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Enrichment
  2. Housing
  3. Humans
  4. olfaction
  5. psychological well-being