Student Research Projects

Olfactory Stimuli as a Means to Elicit Predatory Behaviors in Malayan Tigers

Student Lindsey Trowbridge ‘14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course Biology 489: Research Methods in the Natural Sciences


In recent years, there has been an increased focus on animal enrichment for zoos. Enrichment enhances the quality of animal care by identifying and providing environmental stimuli necessary for the optimal psychological and physiological well-being of captive animals. It keeps the animal occupied through increasing its range and diversity of behavioral opportunities and provides a more stimulating and responsive environment (Forman, et al. 2001). This is especially important for animals that have naturally large territories. Because zoos have a limited amount of space for animals, the animals are limited to enclosures that are not comparable to their natural territories. The focus of the current study is olfactory enrichment, addition of scents to an animal’s enclosure, for Malayan Tigers at the Norfolk zoo, which allows the tigers to simulate an actual hunt. To enrich this behavior, tapir bedding was added to the enclosure in a variety of places. Since tapirs are part of Malayan tigers’ natural habitat as well as being prey for the tigers, it was the best choice of olfactory stimuli. After the bedding was added, scan sampling of the tigers was conducted to gauge their responses and to determine if the olfactory enrichment had any effect on their predatory behaviors. The current study found that