Evaluation of factors affecting the behaviour of Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris) in captivity
Keywords:Zoo visitors, Behaviour, Bengal tiger, Enrichment
The National Zoological Park (NZP), New Delhi is one of the large category zoos of the country housing a number of endangered species of animals. The zoo is visited by a large number of visitors every year. The zoo provides a naturalistic environment and other facilities like feed, healthcare, etc. to the captive animals. However, in captivity the housing conditions, visitation and other factors may jeopardize the natural behaviour, health as well as welfare of animals due to which the animal shows abnormal behaviour i.e. stereotypic behaviour. The study aims to investigate the effect of zoo visitors (visitor noise and density) and different types of enrichment on the behaviour of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris) housed in the NZP. During the study, 10 individual Bengal tigers were studied during two phases: pre-enrichment and post-enrichment. The effect of visitor noise and density were also taken into account during both phases. The results of the study revealed a positive correlation between visitor density and noise with stereotypic behaviours in Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris) housed in the NZP. Therefore, there is an urgent need to review the existing visitation pattern at the zoo, and the carrying capacity of the visitor display area for the enclosures housing tigers so that the abnormal or stereotypic behaviour performed by the animals may be reduced and the welfare status of the captive animals can be improved which in turn helps in conserving the animals in captivity. Ultimately, the outcomes of this study can contribute to the development of better management strategies and enriching experiences for both the animals and visitors in zoological parks.
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