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Effects of summer microclimates on behavior of lions and tigers in zoos

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Title: Effects of summer microclimates on behavior of lions and tigers in zoos
Author: Young, Tory; Finegan, Esther; Brown, Robert D.
Abstract: Abstract The surrounding thermal environment has a direct influence on the well-being of an animal. However, few studies have investigated the microclimatic conditions that result from outdoor zoo enclosure designs and whether this affects where animals choose to spend time. Two African lions (Panthera leo) and two Siberian/Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) were observed for a total of 18 full days during the summer and fall of 2009. Their activities and locations were recorded to the nearest minute of each test day. Simultaneous on-site microclimate measurements were taken of air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, and wind. Observations indicated that the locations where the animals chose to spend time were influenced by the microclimatic conditions. All subjects spent more time in the shade on their sunny warm days than on other days and differed from one another in their choice of shade source on all days. Temperature-comparable sunny and cloudy days showed a greater use of sun on the cloudy days. Species-specific differences between the lions (whose native habitat is hot) and the tigers (whose native habitat is temperate with cold winters) were observed with the tigers displaying more cooling behaviors than the lions in terms of solar radiation input and evaporative heat loss. The tigers were also more active than the lions. The results of this study provide new insight into how lions and tigers respond to microclimatic conditions in a captive environment.
Date: 2012
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Related Publications: Young, Tory, Esther Finegan, and Robert D. Brown. 2012. Effects of summer microclimates on behavior of lions and tigers in zoos. International Journal of Biometeorology. Published online 17 June 2012

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