Globally, zoological collections may host public events after usual opening hours including festivals, special tours and evening events, in order to generate income. During the summer of 2014, The Zoological Society of London held a series of nine evening events during which zoos’ opening hours were extended, with entertainment offerings such as tours and visitor events provided. This study investigated the effect of evening events on the behaviour and enclosure use of five Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatrae) at ZSL London Zoo. Instantaneous focal sampling was utilised to collect behavioural data and enclosure zone occupancy. Measures of visitor density, crowd noise volume and flash photography data were collected to identify their effect on behaviour and enclosure use. Overall, there was a significant decrease in feeding, locomotion and playing, and a significant increase in resting during event evenings. The event behaviours stretching, spraying, rubbing, flehmen and glass banging also occurred significantly more often during events than on control evenings. There was a significant difference in enclosure use between evening event and control nights, with tigers using distant zones more frequently during events. These data suggest that overall, event nights could influence the behaviour of zoo-housed tigers. In addition to altering their behaviour, tigers appear to exercise choice in space use to reduce the impact of visitor presence during evenings. Future studies should explore these potential impacts across a wider range of felids and investigate the effects of the different stimuli produced by visitors. This information can therefore be used to inform planning of effective mitigation strategies.



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Acta Scientific Veterinary Sciences

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School of Biological and Marine Sciences