A Comparison of Captive African Lion (Panthera leo) Activity and Social Behaviour
in UK Zoological Collections
Giovanni Quintavalle Pastorino1*, Thomas Gascoine2, Francesco Drago1, Kim Wilkins3, Bridget Johnson4, Anita Hashmi1,2 and Richard Preziosi1
1School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth UK
2School of Science and the Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University,
3Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Branton, Doncaster, UK
4Knowsley Safari, Prescot, UK
*Corresponding Author: Giovanni Quintavalle Pastorino, School of Biological and Marine Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth UK.
February 03, 2023; Published: March 17, 2023
Many felid species are in a rapid state of decline in the natural world due to the mounting impacts of human activity. As a result, there is an urgent requirement for ex-situ conservation intervention, with many endangered species relying on zoos for survival. Guaranteeing animal welfare as well as preservation of species-specific behaviors is paramount in modern zoos. This study investigated the activity levels and social dynamics of three African lion prides in two zoological collections to highlight comparisons between zoo lion behaviour and that of their wild counterparts as presented in the existing literature.
Monitoring took place at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster (YWP), and Knowsley Safari Park, Prescot (KSP) in the United Kingdom between June and September 2018. Video-recorded data was collected using continuous focal animal sampling. Time budgets and enclosure use were determined and compared between pride of lions. The initial hypothesis posited that activity and active behaviours would be higher in prides with more individuals. Overall active behaviours were exhibited quite high particularly in YWP (Pride 1 and 3). Social behaviour was more prevalent in KSP (Pride2) while stereotypic behaviours were low. Pride 3 at YWP had the most active behaviours across all prides but also had the highest prevalence of stereotypic behaviours. Social behaviours were more prevalent in Pride 2 (KSP) where stereotypies also played a larger role. Despite high activity behaviour, individuals in Pride 3 also displayed a high percentage of stereotypic behaviours. This study rejects the initial hypothesis. In the studied prides, social behaviour was recorded most regularly with the larger prides that were all of a close relatedness. This study highlights the importance of providing several varying enrichment opportunities as being potentially significant factors in more social and more active prides in captivity.
Keywords: African Lion; Fission-Fusion; Pride; Sociality
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