Orca behavior and implications for oceanaria confinement and use in performances: aggression increases and behavioral pathology.

Anderson, Robert; Waayers, Robyn and Knight, Andrew (2016) Orca behavior and implications for oceanaria confinement and use in performances: aggression increases and behavioral pathology.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani6080049

Abstract

Based on neuroanatomical indices such as brain size and encephalization quotient, orcas are among the most intelligent animals on Earth. They display a range of complex behaviors indicative of social intelligence, but these are difficult to study in the open ocean where protective laws may apply, or in captivity, where access is constrained for commercial and safety reasons. From 1979 - 1980, however, we were able to interact with juvenile orcas in an unstructured way at San Diego’s SeaWorld facility. We observed what appeared to be pranks, tests of trust, limited use of tactical deception, emotional self-control, and empathetic behaviors. Our observations were consistent with those of a former Seaworld trainer, and provide important insights into orca cognition, communication and social intelligence. However, after being trained as performers within Seaworld’s commercial entertainment program, a number of orcas began to exhibit aggressive behaviors. The orcas who previously established apparent friendships with humans were most affected, although significant aggression also occurred in some of their descendants, and among the orcas they lived with. Such oceanaria confinement and commercial use can no longer be considered ethically defensible, given current understanding of orcas’ advanced cognitive, social and communicative capacities, and of their behavioral needs.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: D328 Animal welfare
Members: The University of Winchester
Depositing User: ULCC Admin
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 12:53
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2016 12:53
URI: http://collections.crest.ac.uk/id/eprint/10891

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