Multi-institutional survey of social, management, husbandry and environmental factors for the SSP African lion Panthera leo population: examining the effects of a breeding moratorium in relation to reproductive success
Daigle, C. L., Brown, Janine L., Carlstead, K., Pukazhenthi, Budhan S., Freeman, E. W., and Snider, R. J. 2015. "Multi-institutional survey of social, management, husbandry and environmental factors for the SSP African lion Panthera leo population: examining the effects of a breeding moratorium in relation to reproductive success." International Zoo Yearbook 49 (1):198-213. https://doi.org/10.1111/izy.12073
A breeding moratorium enacted in the early 1980s for African lions Panthera leo in North American zoos was lifted in 1998. However, post-moratorium reproduction was poorer than expected from 1999 to 2005. In 2007, therefore, a multi-institutional survey was conducted to provide a general overview of the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) African lion population ♀♀, and assess relationships between social, management, husbandry and environmental conditions, and reproductive activity. Females (n = 40) were divided into reproductive categories: contracepted, non-reproductive, nulliparous and reproductive. Several factors were associated with reproductive success, one of which suggests that larger pride sizes and lion temperament may play roles in reproduction. In addition, compared with reproductive ♀♀, non-reproductive ♀♀ were housed with fewer ♀♀, were fed less food per day, spent less time per day on display and tended to be trained fewer times per week. The biological significance of some of these relationships with reproduction is not clear, and cause-and-effect relationships were not established. However, this information will be valuable in directing future studies to determine how lion management affects reproduction. One possible explanation for the reproductive decline could have been a loss of breeding-management knowledge during the moratorium, a situation that has since been resolved.