A Quantitative Approach for Using Anticipatory Behavior as a Graded Welfare Assessment

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Aleksei A Podturkin, Bethany L Krebs, Jason V Watters
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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To perform quick assessments, welfare practitioners may focus on specific behavioral indicators of welfare, which can lead to challenges in interpretation. Anticipatory behavior has been suggested as a potentially graded indicator of well-being in animals. However, there are difficulties in assessing variations in this class of behavior quantitatively. Here, we propose an analytical approach for identifying and comparing the intensity of anticipatory behavior across different conditions. We evaluated the changes in the behavior of a sea lion at the San Francisco Zoo before and after daily training sessions, the start time of which had differing degrees of predictability. We show that anticipatory behavior is a complex suite of behaviors that can show multi-directional changes prior to an anticipated event. Additionally, we show that the methods utilized here can distinguish among differing intensities of anticipation directed toward daily husbandry events. We suggest that this approach may be broadly applicable for applying measures of anticipatory behavior as a graded welfare indicator.


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