|dc.description.abstract||The fossa (Cryptoproctaferox) is a solitary carnivore and the largest endemic
mammal extant on Madagascar. It is estimated that less than 2500 individuals
survive on the island and they are currently listed by the IUCN as endangered.
The aims of this study were to investigate the behaviour and reproductive
physiology of the fossa, with reference to the small captive population. The
limited previous work carried out on this species suggested several unique
traits both in biology and behaviour. Of particular note is the phenomenon of
transient masculinisation observed in juvenile females, and in addition, the
highly unusual mating system described as a cross between lekking and
scramble competition polygyny.
In this present study six zoos were visited in the UK and Germany to
observe fossa behaviour. General behavioural observations were used to
gather data on activity patterns and budgets, the occurrence of repetitive
pacing, reproductive behaviour and scent-marking in both males and females.
Furthermore, enclosure modification was used to examine in greater detail
aspects of behaviour noted. Five zoos collected faecal samples over a threeyear
period; these were used to study reproductive physiology through the
application of an enzyme immunoassay technique. In addition, museum
specimens of bacula, in both the fossa and other carnivores, were examined in
relation to function and described mating systems.
Seasonality, ovulation type and the length of the oestrus cycle were
determined and behavioural changes linked to reproductive condition found.
A new theory, termed transient natal dispersion, is proposed to explain the
unusual mating and social system
Aerv d, incorporating information
gathered regarding ovulation, copulatory pattern, scent-marking behaviour
and the male genitalia. The data gathered in this study are also used to propose
changes in management, which would enhance the keeping of this endangered
species, whilst the future role of zoos in carnivore conservation is reexamined.||en_US