Animal Welfare Research: Animal Behavior

Animal Behavior is the scientific study of the ways animals interact with each other and the environment. Zoos are valuable resources for the study of animal behavior due to the diversity of species and semi-controlled environment. By conducting studies on animals, zoo professionals gain valuable information in order to provide optimal care and enhance the welfare of each individual animal. The Chicago Zoological Society strives to answer essential questions that help us better understand how animals can thrive under managed care as well as in wildlife populations.

Animal behavior research has many applications and has provided CZS with essential information. Some examples include:

  • Exploring the impact of environmental enrichment on activity levels and foraging behavior.
  • Examining behavior across a diversity of species to ask specific questions about animal management practices to ensure each individual animal is thriving.
  • Examining animal personality through behavior to understand how individual differences affect reproductive success.
  • Working closely with staff from the Endocrinology Laboratory to understand how social factors influence behavior and ultimately animal welfare.
  • Initiating systematic observations after zookeepers have noted a shift in welfare status using tools such as WelfareTrak®.

These are just a few of the many ways that CZS uses animal behavior information to help ensure that we are providing the optimal care for our animals in our collection.