Enhancing Habitat Use and Activity Budget of a Three-Legged Fishing Cat

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Cheyenne Halsey David Orban


By Cheyenne Halsey, Biology

Advisor: David Orban

Presentation ID: AM_ATRIUM28

Abstract: Animal behavior research is a key tool that zoos and aquariums can utilize to better understand and improve their animals' experiences. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is home to a female fishing cat, Prionailurus viverrinus, named Ratana, who is 13-years old, arthritic, and three-legged due to a previous injury. Ratana has a multilevel habitat, with levels that are not accessible to her due to her disability. Using an ethogram and a behavior monitoring web tool called ZooMonitor, instantaneous scan sampling was implemented to measure Ratana's behavior and location, with data collected every 30 seconds in 10-minute sample sessions. Ratana was observed over 10 minute periods every hour and a half, three days per week. After establishing a baseline activity budget for Ratana over 4 weeks, the animal care team added ramps to the habitat and live fish to the pool, which I hypothesized would cause an increase in time spent at the mid and high levels of the habitat, as well as decreased inactivity. Ramps were added to make the mid and high levels of her habitat more accessible, and live fish were added to her pool daily around 1:00 pm. The last data set was collected for another four weeks using the same methods to evaluate behavior change resulting from these habitat modification_s. After all data was collected, the baseline and treatment activity budgets were compared and statistical tests were run to determine if there was a significant difference present.

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AM Poster Session -- Atrium -- Sustainability & Biodiversity