Nutritional and Behavioral Effects of Gorge and Fast Feeding in Captive Lions

Source: J.D. Altman, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2005, Vol. 8, No. 1, Pages 47-57
The effect of gorge and fast feeding on nutritional status and activity pattters was tested in captive African lions (Panthera leo).
Nonhuman animals in captivity manifest behaviors and physiological conditions that are not common in the wild. Lions in captivity face problems of obesity, inactivity, and stereotypy. To mediate common problems of captive lions, this study implemented a gorge and fast feeding schedule that better models naturalistic patterns: African lions (Panthera leo) gradually adapted from a conventional feeding program to a random gorge and fast feeding schedule. Digestibility increased significantly and food intake and metabolizable energy intake correspondingly decreased. Lions also showed an increase in appetitive active behaviors, no increase in agonistic behavior, and paced half as frequently on fast days as on feeding days. Thus, switching captive lions to a gorge and fast feeding schedule resulted in improved nutritional status and increased activity.