Managing repetitive locomotor behaviour and time spent off exhibit in a male black-footed cat (Felis negripes) through exhibit and husbandry modifications

  • Austin Leeds Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Case Western Reserve University
  • Dawn Stone Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Becky Johnson Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Elena Less Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Tad Schoffner Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
  • Patricia Dennis Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Ohio State University
  • Kristen Lukas Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Case Western Reserve University
  • Jason Wark Lincoln Park Zoo


At Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (Cleveland, OH, USA) a male black-footed cat was frequently observed to exhibit repetitive locomotor behaviour and spent a large portion of his day off exhibit. As part of a collaborative effort between animal care and research staff, a stepwise intervention strategy was developed to decrease the subject’s repetitive locomotion and increase his time spent on exhibit. This plan consisted of four phases: baseline, the implementation of a random feeding schedule, exhibit modification, and the implementation of a low-starch diet. The implementation of the low-starch diet resulted in a significant decrease in locomotor behaviour and beginning with the first manipulative phase a qualitative decrease in repetitive locomotor behaviour was observed. Following the implementation of these changes, the subject also significantly decreased his time spent off exhibit. This is the first systematic study addressing an animal welfare concern in a black-footed cat.

Evidence Based Practice