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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: To hunt or not to hunt? A feeding enrichment experiment with captive large felids

Published source details

Bashaw M.J., Bloomsmith M.A., Marr M.J. & Maple T.L. (2003) To hunt or not to hunt? A feeding enrichment experiment with captive large felids. Zoo Biology, 22, 189-198


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Carnivores: Provide bones, hides or partial carcasses Management of Captive Animals

A replicated, before-and-after study in 2003 of lions Panthera leo and tigers Panthera tigris in a zoo in the USA found that when presented with bones twice a week as enrichment in addition to a commercial diet, stereotypic behaviours decreased compared to a commercial diet without bones. The presentation of bones twice a week on fed days, reduced the frequency of stereotypic behaviours (0.17 proportion of scans) compared to their routine commercial diet with one bone presented on fast days (0.28 proportion of scans). When presented in the morning, the frequency of resting (65%), standing (14%) and consumptive (3%) behaviours increased compared to when fed the commercial diet (resting: 35%; standing: 5%; consumptive: 0%). Before the experiment, the five cats were fed ground beef-based commercial diet six days a week and were not fed on the seventh day, instead they received a horse leg bone. There were four conditions in the experiment, each condition lasted four weeks 1) baseline data 2) bones were supplied twice per week 3) Live fish were supplied twice per week which were placed inside water pools. 4) A post-manipulation baseline was measured (for tigers only). Each cat was observed for one-hour sessions using instantaneous scan sampling at one-minute intervals for a minimum of six hours per cat.

Carnivores: Provide live vertebrate prey Management of Captive Animals

A small replicated, before-and-after study in 2003 of Sumatran tigers Panthera tigris sumatrae in a zoo in the USA found that when presented with live fish, there were no significant differences in the frequency of stereotypical behaviours compared to days without live fish. Two tigers were fed a commercial feline diet six days a week and were not fed on the seventh day, instead they received a horse leg bone. There were four conditions, each lasting four weeks: 1) baseline,  2) bones were supplied twice per week, 3) live fish were placed inside shallow water pools twice per week, and 4) post-manipulation baseline. Each tiger was observed for nine one-hour sessions in each condition using instantaneous scan sampling at one-minute intervals.