Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Carl P. Qualls

Committee Chair Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 2

Stan Kuczaj

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Aimée K. Thomas

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Two Amur leopards from the Jackson Zoological Park were observed under continuous surveillance while on exhibit over 21 days to better understand the activity budget of leopards in captivity, and what effects olfactory stimuli may have on those activity patterns. Behaviors were observed through surveillance systems located around their enclosure and scored using an ethogram, and proportions of behaviors shown were calculated for each day, and by 15-minute increments throughout the day. Over the course of this study, leopards received three olfactory stimuli on separate occasions, where we then compared behaviors before stimuli presented to behaviors expressed during and after enrichment was presented.

Overall, leopards were active on average around two hours, 30 minutes each day, with pacing accounting for approximately 30 minutes to one hour of that time. Leopards interacted with stimuli; however, their use was extremely short-lived, primarily only the first two hours of the first day, with use dropping between 85% and 90% from the first to second day. Animals were also selecting certain areas of their exhibit, using 51% of their exhibit 83% of the time. Ultimately, some stimuli may have positive effects on modifying captive leopards, but those effects may not last to a second day. Zoos should continually modify stimuli and account for almost immediate habitation for an enrichment program to be effective.

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