Razal, C., Pisacane, C., Miller, L. 2016. Multifaceted approach to personality assessment in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). Animal Behavior and Cognition 3(1), 22–31.

The purpose of this study was to assess the personality of 17 South African cheetahs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A multifaceted approach of observer ratings (rating method), behavioral data (coding method) and hormone monitoring was used to examine individual differences. Knowledge of these individual differences, i.e., personality, is essential to better husbandry and management in a zoological facility. Principal Components Analysis yielded five personality components: Insecure, Aggressive, Interactive, Active, and Unsociable. Comparing the personality components with gender, reproductive success, and hand-rearing history of the individuals revealed significant associations. The components Aggressive and Interactive had a positive correlation with behavioral diversity, and the component Unsociable had a positive correlation with self-maintenance. There was a significant gender difference, with males scoring higher on Aggressive and Interactive. Individuals who scored higher on these components also had higher levels of behavioral diversity, and males displayed higher levels of behavioral diversity than females. In addition, individuals that were reproductively successful scored higher on the component Unsociable, as well as displayed higher FGM levels. This study demonstrates the value of using a multifaceted approach to further understand and assess animal personality. Information gained from this study can ultimately help zoological facilities manage and assist with reproductive efforts in populations that are not currently self-sustaining, such as the cheetah.

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