The behavioural effects of feeding lean meat vs whole rabbit carcasses to zoo jaguars Panthera onca
Keywords:behaviour, feeding/feed type, lean meat, jaguar, Panthera onca, whole carcass
The challenge of carnivore feeding in zoos is to stimulate natural feeding behaviour without using live prey animals. The objective of this study was to investigate how two different feed types (lean beef and whole rabbits) affect the behaviour of zoo jaguars Panthera onca for the first six hours after feed presentation. Three socially housed jaguars at Parken Zoo, Sweden, were offered either lean beef or whole rabbits for 10 consecutive feeding days. Their behaviour during and after feeding was video-recorded and then compared between the two feed types. When analysing the frequency of different behaviours for six hours after feeding, results confirm that feeding behaviour occurred significantly more frequently when whole rabbits were fed, particularly during the first hour after feed presentation. However, even though feeding time increased by more than 300%, this represents a change of less than 1% in terms of the overall proportion of a 24-hour budget. Future studies might investigate the effect of feeding jaguars larger carcasses than rabbits, including with more hours of observation.
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