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Socialization of a single hand-reared tiger cub

By A. S. Kelling, M. J. Bashaw, M. A. Bloomsmith, T. L. Maple

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Given the drawbacks of hand-rearing nonhuman animals in captivity, the practice is generally avoided, but it is sometimes necessary. A few scientific publications are available to guide managers toward best practices in hand-rearing, but the majority of articles focus on hand-rearing captive primates. Less is known about hand-rearing carnivores, but early socialization appears to be critical for adult social behavior. This article documents the successful hand-rearing and reintroduction of a single female Sumatran tiger cub at Zoo Atlanta. Reintroduction included a systematic procedure that used scent trials and introduction sessions through a barrier to gauge interest and determine whether or not aggression was a problem. Based on signs of interest, reduced stress-related behaviors, and a lack of aggression, animal managers decided to proceed with reintroduction. During the introductions, the animals were not aggressive and did occasionally interact, although typical mother-infant interactions were rare. The cub has since bred naturally and successfully delivered and reared two litters of cubs. These data suggest limited exposure to an adult tiger may be adequate socialization for normal reproduction even if it is provided relatively late in the cub's development.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 47-63
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2013.741000
Language English
Author Address Center for Conservation and Behavior, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal reproduction
  4. Animals
  5. Animal welfare
  6. APEC countries
  7. ASEAN Countries
  8. Asia
  9. Carnivores
  10. Countries
  11. Developed countries
  12. Developing countries
  13. Documentation
  14. Georgia
  15. Indonesia
  16. Interactions
  17. Litters
  18. Mammals
  19. North America
  20. OECD countries
  21. peer-reviewed
  22. Primates
  23. publications
  24. Reproduction
  25. Social behavior
  26. United States of America
  27. vertebrates
  28. Zoo and captive wild animals
  1. peer-reviewed