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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Carnivores: Change location of food around enclosure Management of Captive Animals

Key messages

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  • One replicated, before-and-after study in Ireland found that altering the location of food decreased pacing behaviours in cheetahs.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


 A replicated, before-and-after study in 2010 of cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus in a wildlife park in Ireland found that when feeding was spatially varied, pacing behaviour decreased compared to using a predictable location. Pacing frequency was reduced when food was spatially varied (0.04 mean proportion of scans) compared to predictable feeding (0.08 mean proportion of scans). Ten cheetahs were housed in five enclosures (one solitary male, two solitary females, a male pair and a mother and four cubs). Instantaneous scan sampling was used at five-minute intervals and a total of 48 scan samples were carried out per enclosure each day. Eight days of data were collected per enrichment technique, including eight baseline days. Spatial feeding involved altering feed between the back and front of the enclosure at the regular feeding time of 16:00 h. Their diet consisted of one whole dead rabbit or chicken six days per week.

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2019) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 539-567 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.