Action: Carnivores: Allocate fast days
Key messagesRead our guidance on Key messages before continuing
In the wild, a carnivore’s diet depends on the abundance and availability of prey. Therefore, many species do not feed every day. While it is not fully understood why captive animals perform stereotypic behaviours, it is thought they can be influenced by food restriction, causing appetitive behaviours that are deemed as repetitive and abnormal. In captivity, larger carnivore species are often fasted for one or more days per week with the aim of replicating natural feeding behaviour.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, before-and-after study in 1994 of jaguars Panthera onca, leopards P. pardus and snow leopards P. uncia in a zoo in the UK  found that felids fed once every three days paced more on non-feeding days than on feeding days. Percentage of total scans spent pacing was higher in non-feeding days (jaguar: 11–18; leopard: 8–18; snow leopard: 8–11) than in feeding days (jaguar: 3; leopard: 4–7; snow leopard: 1–2). Eight felids (two jaguars, three leopards and three snow leopards) were observed using instantaneous scan sampling every 15 minutes during four 1-hour sessions each day (total 560 scans per enclosure). Felids were fed every third day.