Social and Reproductive Behaviours in the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in a Captive Population

Author: Rebecca Ruth Bradford-Wright

Bradford-Wright, Rebecca Ruth, 2013 Social and Reproductive Behaviours in the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in a Captive Population, Flinders University, School of Biological Sciences

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The cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus, is an iconic animal that has had one of the longest associations with people in recorded history. While considerable research has been performed on their behaviour in the wild, there has been very little focus on cheetah behaviour in captivity. Behavioural studies on captive populations are needed to understand the social dynamics of this species and how they may impact on breeding success. Using a captive population of cheetahs at Monarto Zoological Park in South Australia, I examine the behavioural repertoire of the captive cheetah, behavioural cues to oestrous in females, and the dynamics of male coalitions that resulted in successful mating. Among the many results from this study, I show that oestrous is indicated by specific tail movements, that male coalitions show complex dominance interactions, and that understanding both these aspects can help design management practices that facilitate successful mating. The results have wide implications for captive breeding of cheetahs.

Keywords: cheetah,behaviour,captivity,oestrus,coalition,dominance interactions

Subject: Biological Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2013
School: School of Biological Sciences
Supervisor: A/Prof Michael Schwarz