Hi :) I was wondering if you could refer me to maybe a list of stereotypical behaviours of captive cetaceans, I am still not sure exactly what people mean when they describe behaviours like as logging etc. Sorry if that sounds really dumb or if it's been asked before, I would just like to be sure about what everyone is talking about, thank you :)
Hey anon! It’s not dumb! I hope you don’t mind I’m just going to make this a whole post quickly encompassing what stereotypical behaviors are, and what it means…
The basics: Stereotypical behaviors in captive animals are repetitive, non-beneficial, and sometimes harmful actions that the animal exhibits to relieve stress; stress that is caused directly from their lack of stimulation and/or inadequate environment in captivity. Abnormal behavior patterns, from the familiar pacing of captive ‘big cats’ and bears to the nocturnal jumping and somersaulting of caged laboratory mice, are displayed by many millions of farm, zoo, research and companion animals. They typically indicate captive environments that compromise animal welfare.
More specifically, stereotypical behaviors seen in captive killer whales that are not physically harmful to the animal, but give insight to us about the lack of adequate space and mental stimulation in their current environments:
- logging at the surface for extended periods of time (x) (x)
- swimming in continuous, uninterrupted circles around the tank(x)(x)(x)
- sinking to the bottom of the pool and lying there for extended periods of time(at first we thought this was exclusive to Corky and Ikaika, now we know it stretches across animals as I’ve recorded this behavior in SeaWorld Orlando also) (x)(x)
- Keet floats in the corner and blows bubbles against the walls of the tank (this is unique to him, I’ve not heard of or seen any other whales do this. It is his personal stereotypie, he repeatedly does this on multiple occasions and it provides no benefit for him whatsoever.) (x) (x)
- bobbing up and down? I’m not sure I’ve seen this too much but here’s a video of Corky doing it (x)
Stereotypical behaviors seen in captive killer whales that could be potentially harmful/are harmful to the animal:
- repeated self stranding on the concrete slide outs - all of their weight pressing down on their organs can cause health problems if this behavior happens frequently - it does. (x) (x) (x) (x so disturbed by this one wow)
- chewing on concrete walls - their teeth are worn down and broken because of this, causing potentially fatal infections from bacteria entering the bloodstream through holes in the teeth. (x)
- regurgitating food and eating it again or playing with it - I’m not sure if this holds true for whales but I’m assuming it would…the acid could erode the lining of their esophagus? Not good. (x - this is my video, it’s sped up and it actually shows two stereotypies, Trua, the smaller whale regurgitates his food and Tilikum is swimming laps.)
There might be more that I’m missing, but this is a pretty long list already! A lot of intelligent animals develop these types of behaviors in captivity because captivity is not a suitable environment for them to live in. Elephants, primates and cetaceans are all in this category.Stereotypical behaviors should always be taken seriously, and while they aren’t the sole indication of an animals welfare, they are a warning sign of potential suffering. The reason they aren’t the sole indication of welfare, is that, for example, Keet could be the perfect weight, have a great appetite and decent mobility - but he’s still blowing bubbles in the corner because his mind is unhealthy - due directly to the stress he encounters by living in captivity.