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  • P-ISSN2765-2203
  • E-ISSN2765-2211

Does Visitation Dictate Animal Welfare in Captivity? : A Case Study of Tigers and Leopards from National Zoological Park, New Delhi

Proceedings of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea, (P)2765-2203; (E)2765-2211
2022, v.3 no.2, pp.103-114
https://doi.org/10.22920/PNIE.2022.3.2.103
Avni Gupta (Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, Amity University)
Saurabh Vashisth (Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, Amity University)
Mahima Sharma (Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, Amity University)
Upamanyu Hore (Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, Amity University)
Hang Lee (Seoul National University College of Veterinary Medicine)
Puneet Pandey (Amity Institute of Forestry and Wildlife, Amity University)

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Abstract

Zoological Parks house exclusive animal species, thus creating a source of education and awareness for visitors. Big cats like tigers and leopards are among the most visited species in zoos globally. However, they often display stressful or stereotypic behaviours. Such behaviours are influenced by multiple factors including visitors, animal history, and captive environment. To understand this impact, we investigated the behavioural response of tigers and leopards to visitation, captive, and biological factors. The behaviour of eight big cats housed in the National Zoological Park, New Delhi, was monitored using focal sampling technique during May and June 2019. We recorded the captive and biological factors and visitor density for the subjects. The study revealed high proportions of inactive and stereotypic behaviours amongst the species. Tigers and leopards were found to perform stereotypic behaviours for 22% and 28% of their time, respectively. Generalised Linear Models revealed a significant variation of stereotypy in association with the factors. Stereotypy was influenced by visitor density, age, sex, breeding history, coat colour, and enclosure design. Adults, males, white-coated, previously bred, and those housed in smaller and simple enclosures display more stereotypy than young, females, normal-coated, unbred, and those housed in larger and complex enclosures, respectively. A high density of visitors induced more stereotypic behaviours amongst the big cats. As providing entertainment and awareness amongst the public is one of the fundamental objectives of the zoo, visitors can not be avoided. Thus, we suggest providing appropriate enrichments that would reduce stereotypies and promote naturalistic behaviours.

keywords
Animal welfare Behavior Leopard Tigers Zoo
Submission Date
2021-11-16
Revised Date
2022-03-11
Accepted Date
2022-03-14

Proceedings of the National Institute of Ecology of the Republic of Korea