Captive hyenas outfox wild relatives

Jan 07, 2013
MSU researchers show that captive animals solve problems faster than their wild cousins. Credit: MSU

(Phys.org)—When it comes to solving puzzles, animals in captivity are, well, different animals than their wild brethren.

Testing animals' ability to solve new problems has been historically conducted on animals in captivity. Only recently has a shift been made to run these tests on animals in their . In a study appearing in , however, researchers at Michigan State University found vast differences in the problem solving skills between captive and wild spotted hyenas.

Applying lessons learned from is potentially problematic because they may not accurately portray how respond to novel challenges, said Sarah Benson-Amram, former MSU zoology graduate student and the study's lead author.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"We have to be careful when interpreting results from captive animals, as there may be extreme differences between how animals behave in captivity and in the wild," said Benson-Amram, who is now a research fellow at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). "An animal that is successful at solving problems in the comfort of its cage may be unwilling to engage in similar problem-solving behavior in the wild."

Benson-Amram presented wild and captive with the same novel problem – a steel puzzle box containing meat. Captive hyenas were significantly better at opening their boxed meals than their wild counterparts. The encaged mammals also were less afraid of the manmade puzzle, and they also were more creative, trying a variety of solutions.

"It doesn't appear that these differences result from captive hyenas having more time or energy," Benson-Amram said. "We conclude they were more successful because they were more willing to tackle the problem and were more exploratory."

Explore further: Researchers collect soil samples from around the globe in effort to conduct fungi survey

Related Stories

Captive carnivores not up to wild living

Jan 21, 2008

A study by the University of Exeter has highlighted the problems of reintroducing animals to the wild for conservation projects. Published online in the journal Biological Conservation, the research highlights the low su ...

China to release six pandas into wild

Dec 21, 2011

Six captive-bred pandas will be freed into an enclosed forest in southwestern China next year in the first mass release of the highly endangered animals, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Male sex organ distinguishes 30 millipede species

7 hours ago

The unique shapes of male sex organs have helped describe thirty new millipede species from the Great Western Woodlands in the Goldfields, the largest area of relatively undisturbed Mediterranean climate ...

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

Nov 26, 2014

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2013
May be Hyenas, Lions and other Wild Cruel Animals should watch 84" TV in their Forests on a daily basis to know how friendly Humans are! And may be they should get a bone as reward for watching for AT LEAST 1/2 an Hour on a given day?
hemitite
not rated yet Jan 07, 2013
Imagine the laugh track on a hyena sitcom!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.