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Evaluation of varied enrichment schedules for two feline and one primate species at Parken Zoo

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

When fed or given food-based enrichment at the same time every day, captive animals have been shown to sometimes be able to predict this event. Such expectation may lead to undesirable behaviours, such as stereotypies, increased aggression and inactivity.  Subsequently, this kind of anticipation in the animals can lead to lowered welfare.

This problem with anticipation is sometimes seen in zoos and as a solution a degree of variation can be introduced into the feeding schedule to make the event less predictable. Such variation was introduced into the enrichment schedule at Parken Zoo in Eskilstuna by withholding or delaying the enrichment on particular days.


This study was performed with the goal to explore and evaluate the behavioural effects of this variation on the species Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus).

Specifically it aimed to answer four questions:

I. Do the animals show expectation prior to the enrichment?

II. Are there any negative behaviour associated with the enrichment?

III. What are the reactions to enrichment being withheld on some days?

IV. What is the effect of having two consecutive days with withheld enrichment?

Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/23/11