Sohel Khan, A., Lea, S. E. G., Chand, P. et al. 2022. Predictors of psychological stress and behavioural diversity among captive red panda in Indian zoos and their implications for global captive management. Scientific Reports 12(1), 14034.
At high elevations, biodiversity is at elevated risk from extinctions due to rapid environmental changes. In the most of its range in Himalayas, the red panda, an endangered species, is struggling to survive in the wild, and a global captive breeding programme has been launched to conserve the species. Because captivity can have negative impacts on animals, reducing the chance of successful reintroduction, we investigated the predictors of stereotyped behaviour and behavioural diversity of red panda (n = 26), and the effect of stereotypy on their behavioural diversity in three Indian zoos. Multivariate analysis showed that stereotypy increased with density of logs on the ground, age and higher among pandas in zoo 3 compared to zoo 2, but decreased with number of nests, sociality, tree density and tree height used. Similarly, behavioural diversity increased with log density, but decreased among pandas in zoo 2 compared to zoo 1, during summer compared to winter, and also with ambient temperature, stereotypy, tree density, and tree height used. The relationship between stereotypy and behavioural diversity was negative, but not significant. Provision of a greater density of trees was associated with higher levels of daytime inactivity. Findings from this study have global relevance, as the captive red panda experiences similar welfare issues around the world, and our data provide empirical support for some existing guidelines for red panda husbandry.