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Dolphin Welfare Assessment under Professional Care: ‘Willingness to Participate’, an Indicator Significantly Associated with Six Potential ‘Alerting Factors’

Abstract : In dolphinaria, dolphins and their trainers build relationships and bonds due to the nature, closeness and repeatability of their interactions, hence training sessions are deemed appropriate to evaluate dolphin welfare. Qualitative Behavioural Assessments (QBAs) have been used to study human–animal relationships and are included in several animal welfare assessments. We introduce here the first QBA aiming to analyse dolphin–trainer interactions during training sessions in terms of dolphin welfare. Our results show that “Willingness to Participate” (WtP) was significantly associated to six other parameters: high-speed approach, high level of excitement, high number of positive responses to trainers’ signals, rare refusal to perform certain behaviours, rare spontaneous departure behaviours and fast approach once the trainer entered into the pool. Therefore, we suggest using WtP and those “alerting factors” when assessing dolphin–trainer interactions under professional care. The evaluation should also consider the time of day, the dolphin’s age, trainer experience level, the nature of the training sessions and to a lesser extent the sex of the dolphins, as contributing and modulating factors. The factor eye contact has been used in various HARs studies and has been proven to be a valid indicator in welfare research works, hence potentially deserving further research. These results demonstrate the pertinence and feasibility of this approach, the ease of use of this methodology by professionals in zoo/aquarium settings and the appropriateness of the obtained results within the holistic frame of animal welfare.
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https://hal-univ-paris13.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03088854
Contributeur : Heiko Rödel <>
Soumis le : dimanche 27 décembre 2020 - 12:14:40
Dernière modification le : mercredi 19 mai 2021 - 15:44:02

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Heiko G. Rödel, Fabienne Delfour, Tania Monreal-Pawlowsky, Ruta Vaicekauskaite, Cristina Pilenga, et al.. Dolphin Welfare Assessment under Professional Care: ‘Willingness to Participate’, an Indicator Significantly Associated with Six Potential ‘Alerting Factors’. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens, 2020, 1 (1), pp.42-60. ⟨10.3390/jzbg1010004⟩. ⟨hal-03088854⟩

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