Preliminary Model of Personality Structure in Captive Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens)
Research on animal personality has revealed that it is stable and contextually consistent and has a significant impact on an animal’s physiology and psychological wellbeing. Personality, sometimes referred to as behavioral syndromes, personality dimensions, or temperament, impacts health, reproductive success, and survival, and is thus an important factor to consider when assessing the welfare of captive animals. In this study, eight red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) were observed from three institutions in New York City to determine if personality dimensions can be assessed in this species using an ethological approach. Two personality dimensions were described: 1) “Active/Exploratory” and 2) “Maintenance”. The “Active/Exploratory” dimension is consistent with several personality dimensions found in other mammalian species, while the “Maintenance” dimension may be related to “Tense” or “Fearful” dimensions found in other species. There is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about age and sex differences related to these personality dimensions, but the “Active/Exploratory” dimension may be inversely correlated with age. Both personality dimensions have ecological and welfare implications. This study can serve as the start of a deeper investigation into personality dimensions in red pandas and the impact they have on the welfare of this species in captivity and possibly the wild.
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