Some interesting facts about big cats Mar 1, 2013 11:56:47 GMT -9
Post by warsaw on Mar 1, 2013 11:56:47 GMT -9
Data from:Yohimbine antagonizes the anaesthetic effects of ketamine-xylazine in captive Indian wild felids.
by Sadanand D Sontakke, Govindhaswamy Umapathy, Sisinthy Shivaji
Data from:THE SUNDARBANS TIGER. ADAPTATION, POPULATION STATUS, AND CONFLICT. MANAGEMENT BY ADAM C. D. BARLOW
Figure 4. Growth curves of male lions in human care plotted with models from 158 wild lions (Smuts et al., 1980).
Figure 5. Growth curves of female lions in human care plotted with models from 186 wild lions (Smuts et al., 1980).
Weight data were collated from 190.229 parent reared, 74.73 hand reared, 33.32 unknown reared, and
23.25 wild born African lions reported in the literature (Clarke & Berry, 1992; Green et al., 1984; Haas et
al., 2005; Schaller, 1976; Smuts et al., 1980; Visser, 2009) and 27.43 parent reared, 8.19 hand reared,
and 1.2 unknown reared Asian lions for a total of 779 lions and 14,456 data points. Weights of male lions
were always greater than female lions of the same age, but there was no difference between Asian and
African lions nor was there a difference between parent-reared lions in human care which were wild born
versus zoo-born. Data were compared to growth curves for 158.186 wild lions reported in the literature
(Smuts et al., 1980) (Figure 4, Figure 5, Table 6).
Growth is often assumed to be linear in young animals, including domestic cats and as was reported in
wild lions (Smuts et al., 1980) and in general this is an adequate assumption. However, when assessing
the needs of neonates (for example when hand-rearing) a more accurate model of early growth is critical.
Unfortunately continuous growth curves for lion in human care and wild lions fail to estimate reasonable
weights during the first year of growth (Smuts et al., 1980). The broken-line model was constrained to
derive accurate weight estimates from birth to maturity to provide a practical tool for evaluation of growing
The rate of lion growth differed based on rearing and gender, however changes in the growth rate
(breakpoints) were similar for males and females within each rearing group. Parent-reared males and
females accelerated growth around 45 and 100 days of age whereas hand-reared males and females
began growing at about 72% of the parent-reared rate but accelerated earlier around 30 and 70 days of
age so that they equaled or surpassed the parent-reared animals in weight around 85 days of age. All
animals decelerated growth around 18 months of age and reached mature weights around 3 years of
age. After 365 days of age, the broken-line and continuous growth curve become similar and both could
be appropriate (Zullinger et al., 1984). Continuous deceleration of growth is more physiologically
accurate; however the broken-line model also describes the data well.
Continuous growth curves for both wild and zoo animals predicted maximum average daily gains around
10 months for female lions and 11 months for male lions (Smuts et al., 1980), however maximum growth
rates for wild lions were predicted to be only 60% of the maximum rate for lions in human care. Overall,
wild lions grew more slowly and for a longer period of time, although the linear estimate of growth
predicted maturity at a similar age to lions in human care (Smuts et al., 1980). The difference between
these animals was also observed by Smuts et al. (1980) and attributed to restricted nutrient availability for
wild lions. This suggests that the higher growth rates in zoo animals reflect a more optimal plane of
nutrition. Conversely, too-rapid growth rates can increase the risk of metabolic disorders, particularly in
association with obesity. Rapid “catch-up”’ growth following periods of restriction may exacerbate these
risks and could be occurring in hand-reared animals (Forsen et al., 2000; Ozanne, 2001; Ozanne &
Hales, 2005). However, due to the small differences between hand-reared and parent-reared lions, the
likelihood that nutrition is limiting in wild lion populations, limited data suggesting that metabolic disease is
a significant problem in lions in human care, the growth rates reported here for both parent-reared and
hand-reared lions in human care are expected to be appropriate. Difference in growth rate of hand-reared
animals may result from formula composition initially followed by more rapid weaning to solids.
Body Condition Scoring
Obesity is purported to be the most common
nutritional disorder in domestic felines (Zoran, 2002).
The most practical method for evaluating degree of
fatness for animals which cannot be readily palpated
is visual body condition scoring. Body condition
scoring (BCS) systems provide a spectrum of fatness
usually with 1–5 or 1–9 levels (BCS points). Nine
point BCS systems are more specific and preferred
in domestic cats, dog, horses and other species and
have been validated against direct and indirect
objective measures of fatness (German et al., 2006; Henneke et al, 1983; LaFlamme, 1997; Laflamme,
2005; Stevenson & Woods, 2006). One advantage of a 9 point body condition scoring system is that
scores of 4 (moderate low) and 6 (moderate high) serve as warning zones where diet or management
changes can be made to avoid ever reaching body conditions of increased health risk (low 1–3 and high
7–9 scores). Weights can provide the most specific measure of change in fatness, however body
condition scoring is necessary in addition to weight to determine appropriate target ranges and also to
track animals when weights alone are not indicative of BCS such as during growth and gestation. Body
condition also does not require special equipment or animal training to achieve, although scorer training is
A 9 pt. BCS scale has been developed for the lion based on 125 images collected from the internet and
other institutions, 60 photosets collected from 2.4
lions at an AZA-accredited zoo, 26 of which were
paired with weights, and 5 paired with palpations and
transcutaneous ultrasounds collected over ribs,
back, rump and tail while the animals were
anesthetized (Fig 6, Fig 8). Although each species
development of specific BCS systems, areas of fat
accumulation are similar across many quadrapedal
species, in particular: over the hips, the base of the
tail, the torso and ribs, the backline, behind and over
the shoulder, and the neck.
It is generally recommended that animals in zoos be
maintained within the range of moderate body
condition scores (4–6 on a 9 point scale). More
extreme body conditions are associated with
performance and reduced longevity in domestic cats
transcutaneous ultrasound can provide a more
accurate measure of fatness and should be used in
assessment if possible.
BCS scores showed a strong linear relationship (r=0.939) to weights for lions. This relationship was
similar in other large felids so lion data were combined with data from 2.2 tigers (Panthera tigris) and 1.0
jaguar (Panthera onca) for a total of 50 weight/score pairs with pairs for each individual spanning at least
3 body conditions. Weights were normalized (weight at BCS 5 = 100%) and plotted against body
condition scores (Figure 7). Linear regression for combined data clustered by animals gave a value of
7.3% change in bodyweight per unit BCS (95% confidence interval 6.3 to 8.3%, r = 0.957).
More specific body composition techniques exist and can further validate BCS scales in exotic animals,
however these techniques are challenging or expensive to apply. Beyond the data reported above, body
composition has not been assessed in lions, however it has been estimated from total body water from 14
wild lions in 2 studies (Clarke & Berry, 1992; Green et al., 1984). Average total body water was 64% and
did not differ between males and females or immature vs. mature lions (P>0.05). This corresponds to an
average fat mass of 13% bodyweight (range 3 to 21%)[glow=red,2,300][/glow]. Studies in domestic cats using the same method,
bioimpedance or DEXA, found fat masses of 23%, 28% and 5-55% bodyweight (Ballevre et al., 1994;
Elliot, 2006; German et al., 2006). From these studies, an equation was derived to estimate body
composition from body condition scores using a 9 pt scale in the cat (German et al., 2006):
%Fat Mass = 6.652(BCS)-14.07
Based on this equation an increase in 1 body condition score is equivalent to a 6.652% increase in
bodyweight, very similar to the 7.3% estimated for large felids. The equation also predicts 0 fat mass at
BCS 2 which would seem appropriate the BCS systems for lions presented above. Accordingly, the
equation for estimating fat mass from BCS in domestic cats appears to be applicable to lions and other
big cats, estimating 20% body fat corresponding to a BCS 5 out of 9. Extrapolating from this equation,
wild lions ranged from 2.5 to 5.25 BCS, with an average BCS of 4 out of 9 (Clarke & Berry, 1992; Green
et al., 1984).
CREATED BY THE. AZA LION SPECIES SURVIVAL PLAN®. IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE. AZA FELID TAXON ADVISORY GROUP. LION.