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Effects of conditioning on the welfare of jaguars (Panthera onca) in captivity

[Efeitos do condicionamento sobre o bem-estar de onças-pintadas (Panthera onca) em cativeiro]

ABSTRACT

The jaguar is the largest feline in the Americas and in the face of the threat of extinction and the reduction of natural areas, keeping the species in captivity may be important for its conservation. This condition can lead to a reduction in well-being, especially due to spatial limitation and lack of environmental stimulus. In recent decades, techniques have been sought to minimize the negative impacts of captivity, with an increase in the use of environmental enrichment and operational conditioning in order to facilitate routine procedures for the animal management. In this scenario, this study aimed to evaluate the effects of conditioning on the welfare of jaguars in captivity, analyzing behavioral and physiological effects through salivary cortisol. Seven jaguars were studied in a Scientific Breeder. There was an increase in behaviors associated with welfare and cortisol during conditioning, possibly related to learning. The increase in behaviors associated with welfare suggests that the technique can contribute to improve the quality of life of these animals in captivity.

Keywords:
training; feline; positive reinforcement; stress; salivary cortisol

Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Escola de Veterinária Caixa Postal 567, 30123-970 Belo Horizonte MG - Brazil, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2041, Tel.: (55 31) 3409-2042 - Belo Horizonte - MG - Brazil
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