Preliminary evaluation of environmental enrichment techniques for African lions

  • Published source details Powell D.M. (1995) Preliminary evaluation of environmental enrichment techniques for African lions. Animal Welfare, 4, 361-370.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Carnivores: Present food frozen in ice

Action Link
Management of Captive Animals
  1. Carnivores: Present food frozen in ice

    A small replicated, before-and-after study in 1994 of African lions Panthera leo in a zoo in the USA found that when presented with fish frozen in ice, manipulation and gnaw/licking, stand/locomoting and sniff/flehmen behaviours increased compared to no enrichment. The frequency of paw manipulation (22.3 per 30 minutes), gnaw/lick (36.67 per 30 minutes), stand/locomote (26 per 30 minutes) and sniff/flehmen (6.33 per 30 minutes) all increased when presented with fish in ice-blocks compared to baseline data (paw manipulation: 0; gnaw/lick: 0; stand/locomote: 6.33; sniff/flehmen: 1.13). Two adult lions and two sub-adults were all fed at 17:00 h daily (3.1 kg chopped horse meat) and were fasted one day a week. Instantaneous scan sampling was used at 20-second intervals for two-hour periods for 24 days and included baseline data when no enrichment was provided. One-zero sampling was also used on specific behaviours to measure the occurrence of rare behaviours, including: licking/gnawing, paw manipulation, sniffing/flehmen and face rubbing/back roll. Different enrichments were provided at random due to availability. Fish frozen in balls of ice were presented to the lions, hanging logs and various scents were also placed around the enclosure on different occasions.

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