Why Do Big Cats pace in Zoos?

By Phil / July 29, 2017
Why Do Big Cats pace in Zoos

Have you ever been to a zoo and seen the large cats pacing back and forth?

I’ve seen panthers pacing rubbing themselves against the glass as they walk up and down. Tigers pacing back and forth, even lion walking past visitors over and over.

I can explain why cats have this behavior in zoos and don’t do this in the wild.

Why do big cats pace in zoos?

I can answer this, although it’s probably not the answer most people want to hear.

The most common reason big cats, like tigers, lions, panthers, etc, tend to pace back and forth when they are in their enclosure because they are stressed.

No matter how big their enclosure is at a zoo, it’s still an enclosure. It’s not the freedom of the great outdoors, and almost all animals will experience some mental distress from being kept captive.

Other Reasons Why Big Cats pace in Their Zoo Enclosures

It’s feeding time – Another reason cats will start to pace around is when it’s feeding time. Not being able to hunt their own food they become dependant on being fed and their body clocks will let them know when it’s feeding time.

If you’ve never seen cats ripping apart their large pieces of meat they are fed it’s quite the experience. This is why people go to zoo’s right, to see things up close that they wouldn’t otherwise see.

Their Enclosure is too small – Being stressed about being kept in captivity is one thing. Having an enclosure that’s too small is an added source of mental stress for animals.

Standards vary from country to country, but the mere nature of being in a zoo means their enclosures are too small in my opinion.

Cats love roaming around in the wild and will often have short bursts of running to burn off energy. Something that can’t as easily do in their enclosures.

Visitors are agitating them – Another thing about being in a zoo that I think we can all appreciate is that sometimes having endless faces looking at them and people pointing can get a little annoying.

Cats love to sleep. If you have a cat at home you can see this on a smaller scale. Your cat will sleep up to 16 hours a day, and if you disturb them I’m sure you get that death stare or they just move on somewhere else where they can get some peace and quiet.

It takes a lot more effort for a big cat to move, and there are fewer places they can get some privacy. They usually have a den away from the public, but it’s not going to be complete peace and sanctuary.