Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Animal Science (MS)

Degree Level



Animal Science


Beth Kegley

Committee Member

Kate Chapman

Second Committee Member

Jason Apple

Third Committee Member

Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo


behavior, cortisol, glucocorticoids, sanctuary, tiger, transportation


With close to 5,000 captive tigers in the United States, it is vital to ensure that these tigers are receiving adequate welfare whether they are in an accredited facility, or privately owned. The goal of this study was to assess whether captive tigers at a rescue facility with experience being transported outside of the facility would respond differently to the presentation of their transport vehicle than their naïve counterparts who had only been transported within the facility. The behavior of 5 naïve and 7 experienced tigers (n = 12) located at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, Arkansas was monitored an hour before, an hour during, and an hour after a rollcage (their normal transport apparatus) was placed directly in front of their enclosure. Behavior was measured by using instantaneous sampling of focal individuals. Behavior data were converted into a percentage of time the tiger spent doing a behavior during each of the 3 sessions (pre, stress, post). Fecal samples were collected on three days prior to and 3 days after rollcage placement for 1 hour. The samples were analyzed using a radioimmunoassay for corticosterone to determine the concentration of fecal cortisol metabolites present. Both behavioral and fecal cortisol metabolite data were analyzed using the Glimmix procedure of SAS with experience, session, day, and sex as fixed effects, tiger as subject, day as a repeated measure, and a behavior or cortisol concentration as the dependent variable. Each fixed effect had only 1 significant effect or tendency on behavior, with sex affecting sleep (P < 0.013), day affecting excretion (P < 0.056), session affecting autogrooming (P < 0.03), and experience affecting sleep (P < 0.063). Several tendencies between the fixed effects occurred in relation to behavior, as well as one for cortisol metabolite concentration (P < 0.099), but there was no pattern to suggest that experienced tigers endured more stress with the prospect of transport than naïve tigers. Further study on captive tigers that utilizes a larger sample size and more behavioral and biological samples should be done to confirm these results.