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Captive big cats show stress in different ways

SAVITH SEKHAR NAIR: ‘Animals in zoos show certain specific behaviours not seen in their wild counterparts: elephants sway their heads from side to side, chimps rock back and forth, bears bite their feet, giraffes lick walls, and leopards pace in their cages, to name a few. Known as ‘stereotypy’, these behaviours are coping responses commonly observed in captive wild animals. Being held behind bars – literally or figuratively – can be depressing for anyone… Stereotypic behaviour is a repetitive pattern of action displayed by such animals, which have no obvious purpose… animals perform such actions when they are stressed or have been habituatedat the present, from a stressful event in the past… Prof. Nagarajan Baskaran, and his team from A.V.C. College in Tamil Nadu, studied stereotypic behaviour in tigers and leopards, to test whether stereotypy and stress were correlated. “The idea was that if an animal is showing stereotypic behaviour (a psychological stress) then it is stressed and therefore the stress hormone levels (physiological stress) in the animal should be accordingly high. As what we expected our study, proved that this is true”, says Janice Vaz, the first author of the study’. SOURCE…

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