Behavioral repertoire assessment of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris) with focus on thermoregulatory behavior
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The behavioral repertoire and environmental feature needs for thermoregulatory comfort have not been reported in the literature for large captive exotics. An observational study was done to investigate the behavioral repertoire of tigers via continuous observation, while focusing on thermoregulatory behavior, in order to examine behavioral and thermoregulatory needs of these animals, and inform microclimatic landscape design for thermal comfort. Nine Bengal tigers (n = 6 females, n = 3 males) were observed in June 2012, and behavior data were recorded every minute, while thermal images of each individual, wind speed, ambient temperature, and relative humidity were recorded every 15 min. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data due to the observatory nature of the study. All tigers spent on average over 45% of the time lying down, less than 19% of the time in direct sunlight and over 20% of their time in the shade. Males did more panting (25.6%) than females (15.1%). There was more individual variation in water and cave usage, compared with shade use and lying behaviors, which could be related to social pressures or basic individual preferences. In summary, shade is a very valuable thermoregulatory resource for tigers. Adding more shade structures to increase thermal comfort and increase activity in these cats (around 10% on average active behaviors) by adding to the space available in the shaded areas.
author list (cited authors)
Stryker, J. A., Atkinson, J. L., Brown, R. D., Barney, D., Robinson, J., Duncan, J., & Finegan, E. J.