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HomeScienceThe Plain of the Tiger: A Mapping Study of Big Cat Personalities

The Plain of the Tiger: A Mapping Study of Big Cat Personalities


The study adapted a human personality test to explore tiger traits such as trust, fidelity, bullying, and ferocity in tigers in China.

Ask any pet owner if their beloved companion has personality and you’ll often get an emphatic “yes.” But now tiger hunters can shake their heads, too — a study published Wednesday reveals that the world’s largest cats have individual personality traits.

Researchers report in the journal that the behavior of 248 Siberian tigers observed through a personality test showed that endangered cats have unique traits that influence their success in reproduction and survival. Royal Society for Open Science.

“We found that tigers are very individualistic, and that people who work with them and know them well see their individuality,” co-author Rosalind Arden of the London School of Economics told AFP.

The study adapted a commonly used human personality test to explore tiger traits such as confidence, fidelity, bullying, and ferocity in two separate groups of tigers held in semi-captivity in China.

The questionnaires were filled out with a list of 70 personality indicators by veterinarians and feeders who work with tigers on a daily basis.

The pooled results found that both groups of tigers displayed characteristics that fell into two main personality categories: majesty and fortitude.

Tigers with higher majesty scores were healthier, preyed on live animals more, and ate and mated more.

The study also said, “They were considered by human residents to have higher status among tigers.”

But being helpful and kind also had its evolutionary benefits: “fixed” tigers turned out to be gentler, more loyal, and more loving.

Such traits may play a role in the unusual length of time—two to three years—that tiger cubs stay with their mothers.

The study found very few sex-related differences in the personalities of tigers, and parental tigers have also been observed to be involved in raising their young.

“It’s so gratifying to see that you don’t have to be controlling and fierce and competitive and aggressive to succeed as a tiger,” said Arden.

Arden said similar studies shed light on primate personality and mental faculties that have helped humanize them.

“There is evidence that it actually improves animal welfare and conservation,” she added.

Siberian tigers are endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. Only about 500 are still living in the wild.

more information:
Rosalind Arden et al., Majestic Tigers: Personality Structure in the Great Amur Cat, Royal Society for Open Science (2023). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220957

© 2023 AFP

the quote: Easy, tiger: A mapping study of big cats’ personalities (2023, April 5) Retrieved April 5, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-easy-tiger-big-cats-personities.html

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