Big Cat Hunting Enrichment at ZooJam 2016 from Fiona French on Vimeo.

Big Cats Brainstorm

  1. Start with environment – laser lights, pressure sensors, all re-programmable.  Create a stalking zone.  System can collect data to show audience – relating to speed of attack, frequency etc.
  2. Rustling plants and shadows, use acoustics and lights to generate sense that prey is in area.
  3. Stalking – have to keep low to avoid breaking light beam.  Animal detects where to go, if behaviour ok, triggers the hunt. System may require training to enable animal to play with it
  4. Release scent unexpectedly – via dispensers or tokens to carry to feeders
  5. Multiple scents in different areas for complexity
  6. Lure – move slowly then fast, track predator behaviour

    Discussion point - Can sensor detect slow and fast? 

    Looking at shape of animal.  PIR needs rapid motion to trigger response. 
    “modal action patterns”.
    Monitor biological changes – “optimal response” 
    Scene domain cues v reliable signals

    Discussion point – is training enriching?    

    Contrast consistency with dynamic patterns

  7. Ninja Stalk Creep - Undergrowth sensors – don’t make a noise, have to be stealthy
  8. Pressure plates on ground, in a grid, changeable targets (think Indiana Jones) – soft paw doesn’t trigger but raises acoustic alarm, full weight does
  9. Ambush – waiting is required. Catapult food into bin, where it’s unobtainable – has to catch in mid-air
  10. Get attention away from keepers, using RC sounds to attract around enclosure.

    Discussion point - Carnivores – gorging until satiated.

    More than bite-sized treats.
    Carcas to share for social hierarchy.

Big Cats Brief

LARGE FELIDS (Mark Kingston-Jones)

In many countries it is illegal to provide live prey to stimulate hunting behaviour in captive carnivores, and without a chance to escape and the potential for suffering of the prey species it would be unethical to do so. Yet hunting behaviour plays a crucial component in natural behaviour and it is therefore vital to find ways to simulate either various aspects, or the full repertoire of hunting behaviour for large cats in captivity.

Lindburg (1988) summarised the four components of hunting behaviour of large felids as firstly locating food, through travelling and detecting, secondly the capture, entailing either stalking, scavenger hunting, coursing or ambushing, thirdly killing through disabling and dispatching, and finally the processing. Lindburg (1988) states that 'each component entails a considerable expenditure of effort, and brings into use the appropriate foraging and feeding equipment, i.e., the sensory modalities, the limbs, claws, teeth and jaws' all of which is important to the carnivores physical and psychological health.

With this in mind, Mark would like to set the goal of simulating the first two components of hunting behaviour through the specific expression of locating, detecting, stalking, chasing and ambushing for species like lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars.