Reliability of caretakers’ ratings of captive bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and finless porpoises’(Neophocaena asiaeorientalis sp.) behavioral style for welfare monitoring

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Agathe Serres, Chaoqun Wang, Yujiang Hao, Jie Lin, Ding Wang
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
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Qualitative ratings are increasingly used to assess animal welfare. We investigated the associations between daily caretakers’ ratings of individuals’ behavioral style, behavior during free time, participation during training sessions, and environmental variables in captive Yangtze finless porpoises, East-Asian finless porpoises, and bottlenose dolphins. Associations between caretakers’ ratings and behavior were found, including social swimming, fast swimming, play, interaction with humans, and agonistic and socio-sexual interactions. Ratings were also associated with participation during training sessions and food intake. Social separation, transport to a new pool, high visitors’ density, and holding of a sick conspecific were associated with ratings indicating a deteriorated human–animal relationship, a lower interest/fear of the environment, and/or a higher social cohesion depending on the group. Through principal component analyses, new variables that represented both caretakers’ ratings and behavior and that could be used for an easier interpretation of the data for welfare monitoring within each group were extracted. Caretaker ratings and behavior should be used as a complement to previously validated indicators to detect changes in welfare state and understand the potential causes of these changes.


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