Effectiveness of food-based enrichment on Sumatran tigers

The Effectiveness of food-based enrichment on Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris) at Adelaide Zoo
Behaviour and enclosure usage of the male Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at the Adelaide zoo
If you have a better idea to change the title to something better regarding the Tiger, let me know, I am open to ideas

The Effectiveness of food-based enrichment on Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris) at Adelaide Zoo


The aim of present study is to explore the effectiveness of the food-based enrichment on behavior of Sumatran tigers. This study will further
determine whether abnormal behavior or stereotypical behavior will decrease and more adaptive behavior will increase. Moreover if effective
enrichment is present then this may encourage greater utilization of all areas of the enclosure.


Humans keep various wild animals in the captivity for the purpose of research, education, conservation and recreation, due to which abnormal
or stereotypical behaviors may develop among the animals. If human-made environment do not allow them to carry out their natural behaviors like
predation, climbing, swimming and stalking they tend to display more stereotypical behaviors. Generally, zoo and other captive environments, due
to negative public reaction and spatial constraints, do not do not let them carry out natural behavior. Tigers (Panthera tigris) present more difficult
case as in the wild, they have natural behaviors of predatory hunting and they also have large home ranges which is quite difficult to provide in the
captivity (Pitsko, 2003). Therefore, the present study will aim to provide the zoos with understanding and knowledge of how to improve tiger’s
natural habitat routine even in the captivity and this may eventually prevent extinction of the Sumatran tigers.

Environmental enrichment is the common practice for addressing the stereotype behavior among the animal in captivity. Just like many other
big cats, Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris) are also renowned due to the stereotypic pacing, still there is quite little is known about enrichment of
this specie. Wild tiger generally spent great time in the feeding, hunting and other territorial behaviors. Recent researches are focused on the
technique and devices which stimulate these behaviors. It has been found that the altered feeding routine, novel feeding items, variety of food
display, olfactory stimulations, novel scents are of great success (Szokalski, Litchfield, & Foster, 2012a). Furthermore, human tiger interaction is
greatly ignored in the literature (Szokalski, Litchfield, and Foster, 2012b). As, there are more tigers exist in the captivity as compared to in wild, it is
quite important that our understanding of the tiger enrichment approach is expanded.

(a) Describe enrichment for captive animals and why zoo-housed animals need enrichment (2 marks)

Environmental enrichment is an effective and simple means for improving welfare of any animal species. It remained as popular area of the
research and attracted concerns and attention of many animal keepers all over the world. The phenomenon of environmental enrichment has been
conceptualized in various ways but the general definition is related to providing options in environment and adds different sensory stimuli in order
to increase the behavioral opportunities for the well-being and benefit of the animals. (de Azevedo et al. 2013)

Zoo housed animals require enrichment because their surrounding environment is quite different from their natural habitat. They are kept in
captivity, with restricted space available for them to exhibit their natural behaviors which lead to the stereotypic behaviors among them.

Sometimes, few endangered species are also kept in the zoo and in order to prevent and unusual behavior among endangered species (Pitsko,
2003), such as Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris) and to ensure their well-being.

(b) Provide brief details about your chosen species in the ‘wild’. What is its natural habitat? Is it endangered? Is it a social or semi-solitary species?
(2 marks)

The specie chosen for this study is the Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris), it usually inhibits Indonesian island of Sumatra. Sumatran tigers
(Panthera tigris) are labeled as Critically Endangered on the Red List of IUCN in 2008 because its population was estimated about 441 to 679, with the
sub-population of 50 members and this trend is still declining. They are predominantly solitary animals except for mating (Goodrich et al. 2015).

    In the presence of food enrichment the Sumatran tigers at Adelaide Zoo will exhibit less stereotypic behavior.
    Three Sumatran tigers are present at Adelaide Zoo, two females and one male, who are aged between 14-19 years. They are contained in spate
    containers due to their solitary nature (Adelaide Zoo, 2013).

The present study will utilize the observational research method which will include the baseline approach (ABA) in order to closely monitor tigers
over the period of 30 days. The independent variable in the present study is feeding enrichment and the dependent behavior includes various


In the present study, food based enrichment will be used in which the strategy of hiding food around the enclosure of the animal will be
followed. Furthermore, to ensure the safety of the individuals will be the basic priority of the researcher and no such measures will be used that
might harm the animal physically or emotionally. The procedure will of the study will be described in the next section that will show that the study
design is quite cost effective and no excessive financial support will be required to conduct this study. The feeding resources will be covered within
the normal feeding routine of the tigers.


Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris), in the present study will be observed during the opening hours for public i.e. 9:30 am–5:30 pm in order to
avoid the effect of confounding variables. The observational time given to observe the sample will be equally divided between three tigers. In the
first week, the observation will not implement feeding enrichment and will be focused on just observing natural behaviors of the Sumatran tigers.
In the second week, feeding enrichment will be incorporated by hiding food around their enclosure in order to observe the tiger’s behavior. In the

third week, feeding enrichment will be removed and behavior will be observed again. Provision of identical situation for all three individuals is the
aim of present study in order to obtain the clear data between.


While analyzing the behavior of Sumatran tigers, observations of the sample will be noted after every two minutes in order to cover the
stereotypic behavior, if any and will be presented on table. The data of the observed stereotypic behavior will be generated on bar-graph and t-test
will be conducted in order to determine behavioral change in tigers.

    Pitsko, L. E. (2003). Wild tigers in captivity: A study of the effects of the captive environment on tiger behavior (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia
    Polytechnic Institute and State University).
    Szokalski, M. S., Litchfield, C. A., & Foster, W. K. (2012a). Enrichment for captive tigers (Panthera tigris): Current knowledge and future directions.
    Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 139(1), 1-9.

Szokalski, M., Litchfield, C., and Foster, W. (2012b). Human-big cat interactions in captivity theses (Online from the University of South Australia).
Goodrich, J., Lynam, A., Miquelle, D., Wibisono, H., Kawanishi, K., Pattanavibool, A., … & Karanth, U. (2015). Panthera tigris. The IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species 2015: e. T15955A50659951.
de Azevedo, C. S., Lima, M. F. F., Cipreste, C. F., Young, R. J., & Rodrigues, M. (2013). Using environmental enrichment to reduce the expression of
abnormal behaviours in Greater rhea Rhea americana at Belo Horizonte Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook, 47(1), 163-170.