Brief Communications

Nature 425, 473-474 (2 October 2003) | doi:10.1038/425473a

Animal Welfare: Captivity effects on wide-ranging carnivores

Ros Clubb1 & Georgia Mason1

Some species — ring-tailed lemurs and snow leopards, for example — apparently thrive in captivity, whereas others, such as Asian elephants and polar bears, are prone to problems that include poor health, repetitive stereotypic behaviour and breeding difficulties. Here we investigate this previously unexplained variation in captive animals' welfare by focusing on caged carnivores, and show that it stems from constraints imposed on the natural behaviour of susceptible animals, with wide-ranging lifestyles in the wild predicting stereotypy and the extent of infant mortality in captivity. Our findings indicate that the keeping of naturally wide-ranging carnivores should be either fundamentally improved or phased out.

  1. Animal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK

Correspondence to: Georgia Mason1 Email: georgia.mason@zoology.ox.ac.uk