Carnivores: Scatter food around enclosure

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • One replicated, before-and-after study in Brazil found that scattered feeding increased locomotion in maned wolves.
  • One replicated study in Brazil found that maned wolves spent more time in the section of their enclosure with scattered food than in a section with food on a tray.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, before-and-after study in 2003 of maned wolves Chrysocyon brachyurus in three zoos in Brazil found that scattering food throughout the enclosure increased locomotory behaviour in the observation period immediately following feeding compared to food provided on trays (mean values not reported). There were also significant individual differences between scattered food and food on trays in foraging, aggression, resting and ‘out of view’. However, these differences were not consistent for all wolves. There was no difference in faecal glucocorticoid metabolites or pacing between feeding conditions. Eleven maned wolves were housed in pairs except for one individual. The wolves were fed once daily with mixed fruit and mixed meat. In the baseline condition food was placed in trays whereas in the scattered food condition half the regular diet was provided on a tray and the rest hidden in 12 locations. Instantaneous focal sampling every 30 seconds was used for 20-minutes per individual for five periods per day.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated study in 2012 of maned wolves Chrysocyon brachyurus in a zoo in Brazil found that when given a choice, the wolves spent more time in the section of their enclosure with scattered food compared to the section with food on a tray (mean values not reported). There was no difference between the number of times the wolves chose to enter the scattered or tray section at the start of each session. There were no differences in intake between scattered and tray sections between pairs or throughout the months. Prior to the study, eight maned wolves housed in mixed sex pairs were fed mixed fruit and mixed meats once a day. Sixteen 30-minute videotaped sessions were conducted over four months. The enclosures comprised of a starting compartment, a choice area and a scattered and tray section. Tray and scattered food conditions were alternated on each side of the enclosure. The section chosen at the beginning, the time spent in each area, the number of shifts between sections and the intake of both animals were all recorded.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Jonas, C.S., Timbrell, L.L., Young, F., Petrovan, S.O., Bowkett, A.E. & Smith, R.K. (2020) Management of Captive Animals. Pages 527-553 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Management of Captive Animals

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Management of Captive Animals
Management of Captive Animals

Management of Captive Animals - Published 2018

Captive Animal Synopsis

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