M

MOORE-JONES, J. (2013)

An Initial Study of the Effects of Hand Rearing on the Future Reproductive Success of Female Captive Felids.

Research Dissertation

61 Seiten

Edinburgh Napier University
Masters of Wildlife Biology and Conservation, Dr. Jason Gilchrist
Zoo Salzburg

Abstract:

This project aimed to assess the future reproductive effects of hand- rearing female felids, compared to their maternal-reared counterparts. Both the future success of the cubs, and the subsequent success of dams that have cubs removed from them, were analysed.

Studbook data of various felid species and subspecies were analysed, including the Amur leopard (Panthera pardus ssp orientalis), Amur tiger (Panthera tigris ssp altaica), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris ssp sumatrae), Sandcat (Felis margarita), Asian golden cat (Catopuma temminckii), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and Rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus). A total of 4569 felids, 356 of them hand- reared, were assessed. A small volume of additional qualitative data was obtained from questionnaires of institutions breeding big cats.

Results supported predicted hypotheses and anecdotal concerns. Hand- reared mothers showed a lower likelihood of successfully rearing at least one cub (Chi2= 11.807, df = 2, p = 0.012), a lower average number of successful offspring (one-way ANOVA, F = 4.32, df = 1, p = 0.038), and a lower average reproductive score on a scaled system (one-way ANOVA, F = 3.89, df = 1, p = 0.049). Hand- reared mothers also show a higher probability of having all of their cubs hand- reared (Chi2 = 11.724, df = 1, p = 0.001), though when cumulated with mothers that require only some cubs hand- reared, results becomes marginally insignificant (Chi2 = 3.261, df = 1, p = 0.071).

The results also indicate a lower average probability of success of subsequent cubs in mothers who have their first cub removed and hand-reared, compared to mothers whose first cub was allowed to perish in their care (two-sample t-test, t = -9.42, df = 58, p = 0.000). Despite limited qualitative data availability and the resulting inevitable weaknesses in power of the results, the project does demonstrate a statistically significantly lower reproductive success rate in hand-reared cats compared to their maternal- reared counterparts, as well as a reduced subsequent success rate for mothers who have cubs hand-reared.

With these results in mind, the project recommends caution when electing to hand-rear felid cubs, even in the event of negligent dams. However, significant further testing is recommended, particularly in relation to the circumstances of removal of cubs from their mother. In addition, a larger sample size of fostered cubs would enable an evaluation of the genetic versus behavioural predisposition to poor maternal success.

 

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