Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter

January-March 1993, Volume 4, Number 1, ISSN: 1050-561X


The Science of Animal Well-being by Ian J.H. Duncan
Using Training to Enhance Animal Care and Welfare by Gail Laule
Protecting Laboratory Animals by U.S. Public Health Service

The Science of Animal Well-being

Ian J.H. Duncan
Department of Animal and Poultry Science University of Guelph Guelph, Ontario, Canada NIG 2WI (The author is a Professor of Poultry Science) (Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, 4(1):1, 4-7. January-March 1993) [Editor's Note - The following article is from the keynote address presented at the combined meeting of the American Society of Animal Science and the International Society for Applied Ethology, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on August 8-11, 1992.] Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure and privilege for me to address you this evening. I want to spend my time trying to convince you that ethology the study of animal behavior is science. It uses the scientific method, and it is a branch of science that can really contribute to animal production. It should be remembered that ethology is a very young science. Ethology came of age in 1973 when Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, and Niko Tinbergen were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. Ethology, therefore, is still in its infancy and many mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Even with further knowledge, the possibility of modelling behavior in terms of input-output equations, such as has been done in nutrition and environmental physiology, seems remote. Let me change tack for a minute and pose this question which I lifted from an advertisement for a recently published book "What is the most complex material object in the universe?" The answer: "Your brain!" It has been calculated that the human brain contains 1011 neurons, that there are 103 synapses per neuron, and that there are 2 states per synapse. This means that the total number of possible brain states is 2 x 1014! And that is the reason why it is unrealistic to expect nice clean-cut models of behavior; the enormous complexity of the organ underlying behavior, the central nervous system, precludes it. Of course the brain is not just an amorphous mass of neurons; it is organized, and is a system of specialized subsystems. However, even simplified interactional models of brain function (e.g., Bindra, 1976) show that it is extremely complex. At this combined meeting of the American Society of Animal Science and the International Society for Applied Ethology, there will be many papers dealing with animal behavior. I would like to whet your appetite by describing very briefly three examples of excellent applied behavioral research. They are particularly interesting because of the implications of the results for other branches of animal science. My first example concerns the research of Ian Taylor who did his graduate work at the University of Illinois. Ian (Taylor et al.,1988) did a very thorough survey of feeders for sows and found that they were very inefficient. This resulted in large amounts of food being spilled and also in injuries to the animals using the feeders. Ian then filmed at high speed the heads of sows as they were feeding in an unencumbered situation. He then very carefully analyzed the film frame by frame and digitized the positions of certain key anatomical features. This allowed him to calculate the envelope of space that the sow requires as she feeds. Ian went on to design a sow feeder (and other swine feeders, using similar methods) based on the information gained from the behavioral observations. These feeders waste 0.5 percent of food compared to the traditional range of wastage of 2-17 percent. Consider the improvement to productivity of this sort of saving achieved simply through careful observation of how animals behave. These improved feeders also do not injure the animals. My second example is the work of Temple Grandin (Grandin, 1983) who designs handling facilities for animals. Her cattle-handling facilities are based on a fundamental knowledge of animal behavior. The visual field of the species involved, the flight distance of animals, what they perceive as frightening, the angle at which they move away from a frightening stimulus these and many more factors go into designing this sort of facility. The benefits are enormous: the whole unit works more smoothly and efficiently, the quality of meat is higher, and the downgrading is less. All this through the application of fundamental principles of animal behavior. My third example is taken from the work of Anne Marie de Passille. Anne Marie has being doing some intensive research on sucking behavior in calves, and I wish to describe just one small part of her work (de Passille et al., 1991). The calves are kept in individual pens and fed a set amount of milk from buckets. Immediately after feeding, one group is allowed to suck on solid rubber teats for a few minutes. This results in an increase in the levels of several of the digestive hormones such as insulin, gastrin, and cholecystokinin. We often see examples of hormones' driving behavior - but here it is the performance of the behavior that is affecting the hormones. The implications are that we may get a more efficient digestive process by allowing calves to suck even if it is non-nutritive sucking. And this is quite apart from any welfare implications. I hope that these three examples have shown you that there are a variety of ways in which studies of behavior can have beneficial application in animal production. In connection with Anne Marie's research, I mentioned animal welfare, and I now wish to talk about that in more detail. Problem 1 - What is animal welfare? Some time ago, Marian Dawkins and I suggested that it was impossible to give "animal welfare" a precise scientific definition. We thought that a loose working definition would be one that encompassed the ideas of the animal in mental and physical health, the animal in harmony with its environment, the animal being able to adapt to its environment without suffering and that we should also take the animal's feelings into account (Duncan and Dawkins, 1983). A loose working definition of "suffering" is a wide range of unpleasant emotional states. More recently, the idea has emerged that welfare is mainly (Dawkins, 1990) or solely (Duncan and Petherick, 1989, 1991) dependent on what the animal feels. Scientific evidence on the welfare of farm livestock is urgently required so that rational decisions can be made on intensive production systems and practices. Many different classes of evidence have been investigated with a view to identifying reliable indicators of reduced welfare. Productivity indicators have proved unreliable, and biochemical and physiological indicators have not lived up to their early promise. There has, therefore, been increasing interest in the use of behavior to assess welfare. The idea of being able to assess the welfare of animals by looking at their behavior is an appealing one: the technique is non-invasive, it could be available in the field without specialized equipment, it might give an instantaneous indication of welfare, and behavioral changes might precede some of the other indicators of reduced welfare. Problem 2 - Welfare involves science, ethics, and aesthetics. We need to acknowledge that welfare problems can be only partially solved by scientific answers. Once the facts are known, society also needs guidance in making ethical decisions. There is probably no difficulty if it is shown, say, that a husbandry system leads to a great deal of distress. However, there will be many cases in which there are both welfare costs and benefits to the animal, and these will be problematical. It is also likely that aesthetic judgments enter into the decisionmaking process. Thus, I think that it offends some people aesthetically to see cattle kept in feedlots without access to grazing and chickens kept in cages, no matter what science has to say about animal welfare under these conditions. Problem 3 - How can welfare be assessed? I would now like to lead you through three examples of ways in which behavior has been used to assess the welfare of poultry. Case 1 There has been a general criticism voiced that "Hens in battery cages will be frustrated." How can this be investigated scientifically? Many years ago, I set out to investigate this question. The approach I took was to subject chickens experimentally to many different frustrating situations and to make a list of all the behavioral responses that they showed (Duncan, 1970). I frustrated the birds' tendencies to feed, to nest, to behave sexually, to incubate eggs, and to brood chicks in many different ways. The behavioral responses that the birds made were very limited. Hens which were mildly frustrated experimentally showed an increase in displacement preening (Duncan and Wood-Gush, 1972a). If the frustration was severe, they showed stereotyped back-and-forward pacing (Duncan and Wood-Gush, 1972b). If two or more birds were frustrated simultaneously, the dominant birds showed an increase in aggression towards the subordinates (Duncan and Wood-Gush, 1971). There was also evidence that severe frustration was very aversive to the birds (Duncan and Wood-Gush, 1974). Rather surprisingly, the symptoms of severe frustration, stereotyped back-and-forward pacing, and increased aggression, with one exception, are not commonly seen in battery cages. It can be concluded that, generally speaking, caging per se does not lead to severe frustration. Displacement preening is seen in battery cages, which suggests that a state of mild frustration is fairly common under commercial conditions. However, it is also commonly seen under natural conditions and seems to be the birds' way of responding to everyday problems. The exception mentioned above is that certain strains of hens in battery cages show stereotyped back-and-forward pacing (Wood-Gush, 1972) and increased aggression (Hughes, 1979) during the prelaying phase when they appear to be frustrated because they cannot find a suitable nest site. From these results, I would argue that the main cause of reduced welfare in battery cages is frustrated nesting behavior. There is now some intensive research going on in the U.K., both at Bristol and Edinburgh, to try to incorporate a nesting site or sites into the battery cage. Case 2 Feather pecking and cannibalism have been problems in poultry production for many years. The industry's solution is to de-beak or beak-trim the birds. Is this a problem for the birds? There is no doubt that an outbreak of feather pecking and cannibalism in a group of chickens greatly reduces their welfare. The injuries inflicted can be horrific and can lead to death. The procedure called de-beaking or beak-trimming, in which about a third of the upper beak and a small part of the lower beak are removed with a sharp heated blade, is very effective in preventing the worst of the damage. It would, therefore, seem that there are great welfare benefits to be gained from this procedure. However, there is now good morphological, neurophysiological, and behavioral evidence that beak trimming leads to both acute and chronic pain. The morphological evidence is that the tip of the beak is richly innervated and has nociceptors or pain receptors (Breward, 1984). This means that cutting and heating the beak will lead to acute pain. In addition, it has been shown that as the nerve fibers in the amputated stump of the beak start to regenerate into the damaged tissue, neuromas form (Breward and Gentle, 1985). Neuromas are tiny tangled nerve masses that have been implicated in phantom limb pain (a type of chronic pain) in human beings. The neurophysiological evidence is that there are abnormal afferent nerve discharges in fibers running from the amputated stump for many weeks after beak trimming long after the healing process has occurred (Breward and Gentle, 1985). This is similar to what happens in human amputees who suffer from phantom limb pain. The behavioral evidence is that the behavior of beak-trimmed birds is radically altered for many weeks compared to that which occurs immediately before the operation and compared to that shown by sham-operated control birds. In particular, classes of behavior involving the beak, namely feeding, drinking, preening and pecking at the environment, occur much less frequently, and two behavior patterns, standing idle and dozing, occur much more frequently. The only reasonable explanation of these changes is that the birds are suffering from chronic pain (Duncan et al., 1989). These facts taken together provide strong evidence that beak trimming is not such a trivial operation as has previously been thought. It almost certainly causes both acute and chronic pain. There is, therefore, a welfare cost as well as a benefit in carrying out this procedure. The same may hold true for other surgical interventions that are commonly practiced in animal agriculture, such as tail-docking, castration, de-horning, etc. Many of these are carried out for welfare reasons, e.g., sheep are commonly tail-docked to prevent blow fly strike, a condition that reduces welfare enormously and causes high mortality. However, it is seldom acknowledged that there may be a welfare cost to the animal. There may be all sorts of welfare costs apart from acute and chronic pain. To continue with the tail-docking example, the animals may be frightened by the procedure, there may be a social cost (perhaps because they cannot signal to each other so effectively), or they may be frustrated (because they cannot flick flies away). I am suggesting that some sort of cost-benefit analysis should be carried out on these procedures. This will not be easy. Cost-benefit analysis is anything but an exact science. Ernst Schumacher in his seminal book Small Is Beautiful, was very disparaging about cost-benefit analysis. He said, Cost/benefit analysis is a procedure by which the higher is reduced to the level of the lower and the priceless is given a price. It can, therefore, never serve to clarify the situation and lead to an enlightened decision. All it can do is lead to self-deception or the deception of others; for to undertake to measure the immeasurable is absurd and constitutes but an elaborate method of moving from preconceived notions to foregone conclusions; all one has to do to obtain the desired results is to impute suitable values to the immeasurable costs and benefits (Schumacher, 1973). I am not as negative as Schumacher but I do realize that there are difficulties in making such an analysis. However, if we do not admit that these routine surgical procedures have costs and at least attempt the exercise, then we will continue to deceive ourselves. Perhaps the exercise of acknowledging that there are costs will be sufficient incentive to look for alternative solutions. Case 3 Do hens in battery cages "miss" items like a dust bath, a foraging substrate, a sexual partner, etc? In asking these questions, we are really trying to "get inside the head" of the animals. We are trying to find out "how they feel" about what we are doing to them. Of course, subjective feelings are not directly accessible to scientific investigation. In the case of human beings, it is possible to find out indirectly how they feel by asking them, but how can we find out how an animal feels? Fortunately, in the welfare debate, it is not necessary to know exactly how an animal feels; even an indirect measure of feelings, such as how positive or negative these feelings are, would be extremely helpful. Perhaps animals could tell us how they feel by what they choose; they might vote with their feet. This rationale forms the basis of preference testing, which has been used extensively in poultry science (Duncan, 1992). In a preference test, the animal is given a choice between certain aspects of its environment and it is assumed that it will choose according to how it feels, i.e., in the best interests of its welfare. However, there are certain pitfalls that have to be guarded against when using preference tests (discussed in more detail by Duncan, 1992). When designing preference tests for animals, we must also ensure that the choices made are not trivial. Likewise, we must ensure that in a preference study the animal is not choosing the lesser of two evils. If we know what the pitfalls are, then we can take suitable precautions to avoid them. One of the ways in which the strength of preference can be measured is by finding out how hard the animal will work to gain access to its preferred choice. We have borrowed a variety of obstructive techniques from the psychology laboratory to find out how important to the animal its choices are (Duncan and Kite, 1987). In these tests, the animal is taught to walk in a runway towards the putative reward, which might be food, a dust-bath, a companion, etc. Various obstructions, such as a weighted push-door, are then placed in the runway between the animal and the "reward," and we can see how hard the animal will work to reach the goal (Petherick et al., 1990). I hope I have convinced you that animal welfare can be better understood (and therefore improved) by a rational scientific approach. An understanding of behavior is going to play a crucial role. I can assure you that the animal welfare issue (a) will not disappear, and (b) cannot be solved by public relations work alone. There is a danger that if this nettle is not grasped, animal agriculture will be seen as ethically challenged or morally handicapped. The question can then be asked "Do we have the necessary expertise working on this topic?" I have tried to assemble some figures, compiled from organizational directories, for a few Western countries. Figure 1 shows the number of applied ethologists working full time with agricultural species in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the Netherlands at the end of 1991. I have tried to be as evenhanded as possible, but these numbers should only be considered approximate. They show that each of these countries has about 10-11 applied ethologists working with agricultural species, apart from the U.K. which has about twice that number. However, when these numbers are expressed according to the value of the livestock industry, a rather different picture emerges. In Figure 2, I have shown the same numbers expressed according to $1 billion (U.S.) farm cash receipts for animals and animal products generated during 1991. Once again these numbers should only be considered approximate. It now appears that the United States has a much lower research effort going into this area, only a tenth of the effort being expended by some European countries.
Fig. 1 (left) Number of applied ethologists working with agricultural species in 1991.
Fig. 2 (right) Number of applied ethologists per value of livestock industry (per $1 billion farm cash receipts generated in 1991).

I would like to finish up with a quotation from one of my favorite poets, the Irishman W.B. Yeats. In his poem, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, Yeats says: I balanced all, brought all to mind, The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind In balance with this life, this death. To me, this summarizes the quintessential human characteristic. Human beings can contemplate past events. They can look into the future and foresee their own death. They can make a balance. I believe that this is the "morally relevant difference" between human beings and animals which the animal rights movements fail to acknowledge. There is evidence that animals can feel pain, and I think we have a moral responsibility to eliminate or reduce pain in our animals. There is evidence that animals can feel frightened and frustrated, and I think we have an obligation to reduce these states of suffering as much as possible. However, there is no evidence that animals have any concept of their own mortality. Let me tell you that if I thought they did, I would become a vegetarian tomorrow. I believe that this is the unique human quality. However, it brings with it a grave responsibility. It means that we have to make decisions, we have to make the balance, we have to carry out the audit, for the animals in our charge. I am optimistic. I think that we can do it. But we will only do it reasonably and rationally and defensibly, if first we carefully gather the scientific evidence.
Bindra, D., 1976. A Theory of Intelligent Behavior. New York, Wiley Interscience. Breward, J., 1984. Cutaneous nociceptors in the chicken beak. Journal of Physiology, London, 346: 56P. Breward, J. and Gentle, M.J., 1985. Neuroma formation and abnormal afferent nerve discharges after partial beak amputation (beak trimming) in poultry. Experientia, 41: 1132-1134. Dawkins, M.S., 1990. From an animal's point of view: Motivation, fitness, and animal welfare. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 13: 1-9. de Passille, A.M.B., R.J. Christopherson, J. Rushen (1991) Sucking behavior affects the post-prandial secretion of digestive hormones in the calf. Proceedings of International Congress Society for Veterinary Ethology. Edinburgh, Scotland. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, Potter's Bar, Herts, Great Britain, pp. 130-131. Duncan, I.J.H., 1970. Frustration in the fowl. In: Aspects of Poultry Behaviour (Eds B.M. Freeman and R.F. Gordon), pp. 15-31. Edinburgh, British Poultry Science Ltd. Duncan, I.J.H., 1992. Measuring preference and the strength of preference. Poultry Science, 71: 658-663. Duncan, I.J.H. and Dawkins, M.S., 1983. The problem of assessing well-being and suffering in farm animals. In Indicators Relevant to Farm Animal Welfare (Ed. D. Smidt), pp. 13-24. The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff. Duncan, I.J.H. and Kite, V.G., 1987. Some investigations into motivation in the domestic fowl. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 18: 387-388. Duncan, I.J.H. and Petherick, J.C., 1989. Cognition: the implications for animal welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 24: 81. Duncan, I.J.H. and Petherick, J.C., 1991. The implications of cognitive processes for animal welfare. Journal of Animal Science, 69: 5017-5022. Duncan, I.J.H. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., 1971. Frustration and aggression in the domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour, 19: 500-504. Duncan, I.J.H. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., 1972a. An analysis of displacement preening in the domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour, 20: 68-71. Duncan, I.J.H. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., 1972b. Thwarting of feeding behaviour in the domestic fowl. Animal Behaviour, 20: 444-451. Duncan, I.J.H. and Wood-Gush, D.G.M., 1974. The effect of a Rauwolfia tranquillizer on stereotyped movements in frustrated domestic fowl. Applied Animal Ethology, 1: 67-76. Duncan, I.J.H., Slee, G.S., Seawright, E. and Breward, J., 1989. Behavioural consequences of partial beak amputation (beak trimming) in poultry. British Poultry Science, 30: 479-488. Grandin, T., 1983. Welfare requirements of handling facilities. In Farm Animal Housing and Welfare (Eds S.H. Baxter, M.R. Baxter and J.A.C. MacCormack), pp. 137-149. The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff. Hughes, B.O., 1979. Aggressive behaviour and its relation to oviposition in the domestic fowl. Applied Animal Ethology, 5: 85-93. Petherick, J.C., Rutter, S.M. and Duncan, I.J.H., 1990. A push-door for measuring motivation. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 26: 285-286. Schumacher, E.F., 1973. Small Is Beautiful. New York, Harper and Row. Taylor, I.A, S.E Curtis, M.R. Backstrom, and J.L. Groppel (1988) Design of feeders for swine: kinematics, behavior, and individuality. Proceedings of 6th International Congress on Animal Hygeine, Skara, Sweden, pp. 390-398. Wood-Gush, D.G.M., 1972. Strain differences in response to sub-optimal stimuli in the fowl. Animal Behaviour, 20: 72-76.

Using Training to Enhance Animal Care and Welfare

Gail Laule
Director of Animal Behavior Active Environments
(Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, 4(1):2, 8-9. January-March 1993) There is a growing trend in the zoological and laboratory animal community to recognize the value of using operant conditioning techniques as an animal care and management tool. Animals have been trained for public exhibition for centuries, but only in recent times has the versatility of training been explored to any appreciable extent. The result has been a variety of benefits for animals, caretakers, veterinarians, and others concerned with the welfare of captive animals. This new interest in training has grown concurrently with the interest and attention surrounding the issue of psychological well-being. I don't believe this is an accident. In fact, a strong case can be made that training, from a physical and psychological perspective, is "good" for animals. However, I am referring to a specific type of training. Positive Reinforcement As consultants, we advocate and teach positive reinforcement training. This type of training relies on the voluntary cooperation of the animal to succeed. Unlike some methods, positive reinforcement training does not require food deprivation. Although animals are reinforced with rewards for the desired response, they are fed their daily allotment of food and rewards for training utilize that diet or extra treats. Operationally, it means that we exhaust the positive alternatives before any negative reinforcement is used. On the rare occasion when an escape/avoidance technique is necessary, it is used minimally and is balanced by a greater proportion of positive reinforcement. Punishment is only used in a life-threatening situation for a person or animal. Positive reinforcement training is truly universal. Operant conditioning provides the tools; how the trainer uses them provides endless opportunities. We have used these techniques with marine mammals, great apes and other primates, canids, felids, ungulates, and others. The basic techniques remain the same; however, adjustments are made for different species, differences among individual animals, the environmental and social situations they are in, and the specific operational objectives. If training has a down side, it is twofold. First, training is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Poorly planned and implemented training can definitely create more problems than it will solve. Secondly, training is time and labor intensive, particularly in the initial stages of a project. However, if viewed in the longterm, these drawbacks can be turned into advantages. Having caretakers with training skills may help alleviate future problem behaviors. And, training results, such as animals voluntarily cooperating in veterinary procedures, ultimately are time and labor saving. For example, in a pilot program being conducted at the chimpanzee breeding facility at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Science Park in Bastrop, Texas, urine collection training is being pursued with all breeding-age female chimps (9). Currently, urine from these females is collected once per cycle by separating the female from her group and waiting for her to urinate, which may take minutes to hours. Training a chimp to urinate on cue may initially take several hours of time over several weeks. However, investing those few hours to achieve reliable collection in less than 10 minutes realizes tremendous time savings over the life of that animal. With urine collection simple and reliable, other research or medical opportunities also become possible. Training offers a wide array of benefits for animals and personnel. Through the process of desensitization, animals are conditioned to voluntarily cooperate in veterinary procedures that can be negative events. Training sessions are spent pairing positive reinforcement with these negative events, ultimately making them less negative, less scary, and less stressful. Also, when animals voluntarily cooperate, anesthesia becomes unnecessary, and the frequency of these behaviors can be increased for use on a preventive basis. Another, more subtle benefit is the increase in choices and control that trained animals' experience. Restraining an animal for a procedure, or having an animal voluntarily cooperate during the procedure without restraint, are two very different events, for both the animal and personnel. One could argue that allowing animals greater control over their lives contributes to psychological well-being. In practice, skillful use of training techniques has resulted in animals that voluntarily move between areas or cages in a reliable and timely manner; marine mammals that voluntarily allow routine blood, stomach, fecal, urine, and blow hole samples to be taken; and primates that cooperate in physical examinations including offering body parts for inspection (Fig. 1) and treatment of wounds, tolerating a stethoscope and thermometer, and allowing blood sampling and injections (7, 11). Thus, the potential is there to condition individuals of many species to tolerate similar procedures.
Fig. 1 Through positive reinforcement training, this chimpanzee voluntarily cooperates with veterinary examinations.
Aggressive Behaviors Training has proven to be effective in addressing aggression problems in social groups in a variety of species. One study documented the reduction of aggressive behavior of one male chimpanzee toward other group members during feeding time (1). By reinforcing the dominant animal for allowing the others to have their share of food and attention, both aggressor and subordinate animals benefitted. He received special treats and attention for his cooperation, and the others were able to receive and consume their allotted food in a less stressful environment. We call this technique cooperative feeding and have used it successfully over the years in many situations, including working pairs of male sea lions together, integrating subdominant dolphins into groups, and preparing and implementing introductions with gorillas and other primates (7, 8). It was also one technique employed with a group of drill baboons to increase overall positive social interactions and affiliative behavior within the group (3, 4). Positive reinforcement training with elephants, implemented through a system we call protected contact, has resulted in a dramatic reduction of aggressive behavior toward keepers (5, 10). In this type of training, where trainers work with the elephants through shields or barriers (Fig. 2) , aggressive behavior is not punished, but simply ignored. At the same time, cooperative, nonaggressive behavior is reinforced when it occurs. The system does not rely on social dominance or escape/avoidance techniques,
Fig.2 "Protected contact" training allows trainers to work with elephants in a cooperative manner.
but on the voluntary participation of the elephant. In fact, in 365 protected contact training sessions with four elephants, the animals chose to work 99 percent of the time. The result is an elephant that is motivated to cooperate with, rather than act aggressively toward, the trainer. Stereotypic Behaviors and Enrichment Training offers techniques and strategies to address neurotic or stereotypic behavior. By training a behavior that is incompatible with the problem one, or a new behavior to replace the undesirable one, or by simply raising the amount of activity and stimulation for the animal, problematic behavior can be reduced or eliminated. In the case of one bottlenose dolphin, training strategies were successfully employed to reduce the incidence of four behavioral problems: swallowing of foreign objects, frequent regurgitation, biting trainers, and inability to integrate into a social group (6). In a recent study conducted at the M.D. Anderson chimp facility, the issue of training as enrichment was explored. Preliminary results indicate that training offers some benefits for animals that are related to psychological well-being. For example, three significant positive changes occurred during training: reduced self-directed behavior, reduced inactivity, and increased social play (2). To my knowledge this is the first study of its kind, and we intend to do more. Positive reinforcement training is gaining stature among animal managers as a useful tool for enhancing animal health care and husbandry needs. It is also more versatile and multi-functional than may initially be perceived. Whether the situation involves a solitary animal with limited sensory stimulation, or a group of animals in the most naturalistic environment imaginable, well planned and implemented training has a place. For further information, contact: Active Environments 7651 Santos Rd. Lompoc, CA 93437 Tel: (805) 737-3700 Fax: (805) 737-3705
1. Bloomsmith, M. et al. Using Training to Modify Chimpanzee Aggression. 1992 American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AAZPA) Central Regional Conference Proceedings, Dallas, TX. 2. Bloomsmith, M. Chimpanzee Training and Behavioral Research: A Symbiotic Relationship. 1992 AAZPA National Conference Proceedings, Toronto, Canada. 3. Cox, C. Increase in the Frequency of Social Interactions and the Likelihood of Reproduction Among Drills. 1987 AAZPA Annual Conference Proceedings, Portland, OR. 4. Desmond, T. et al. Training for Socialization and Reproduction with Drills. 1987 AAZPA National Conference Proceedings, Portland, OR. 5. Desmond, T. and Laule, G. Protected Contact Elephant Training. 1991 AAZPA National Conference Proceedings, San Diego, CA. 6. Laule, G. Behavioral Intervention in the Case of a Hybrid Tursiops sp. 1984 International Marine Animal Trainer Association (IMATA) Annual Conference Proceedings, Los Angeles, CA. 7. Laule, G. and Desmond, T. Use of Positive Behavioral Techniques in Primates for Husbandry and Handling. 1990 ZooVet Annual Conference Proceedings, South Padre Island, TX. 8. Laule, G. and Desmond, T. Meeting Behavioral Objectives While Maintaining Healthy Social Behavior and Dominance. 1991 IMATA Annual Conference Proceedings, San Francisco, CA. 9. Laule, G. et al. Positive Reinforcement Techniques and Chimpanzees: An Innovative Program. 1992 AAZPA Central Regional Conference Proceedings, Dallas, TX. 10. Maddox, S. Bull Elephant Management: A Safe Alternative. 1992 AAZPA Central Regional Conference Proceedings, Dallas, TX. 11. Reichard, T. et al. Training for Husbandry and Medical Purposes. 1992 AAZPA National Conference Proceedings, Toronto, Canada. Acknowlegements: Work at the M.D. Anderson facility was supported by the NIH/DRR grants R01-RR03578 and U42-RR03489.

Protecting Laboratory Animals

A Statement from the United States Public Health Service (Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, 4(1):11. January-March 1993) As a result of a recent lawsuit brought by two animal protectionist organizations, a Federal court ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reconsider its exclusion of rats, mice, and birds from coverage under the Animal Welfare Act. In the judge's opinion, "the USDA's decision not to regulate these species sent a message that researchers may subject these animals to cruel and inhumane conditions." People who are familiar with the extensive system of U.S. laws, regulations, guidelines, and principles that protect the welfare of laboratory animals would not necessarily agree with the judge's comment. The Public Health Service (PHS) wants to reassure the American people that other laws exist to safeguard the welfare of rats, mice, and birds, species that comprise about 90 percent of research animals. According to the Health Research Extension Act, over 1,000 institutions receiving funds from the PHS to conduct animal experiments are required to comply with the provisions of the act and to follow the recommendations in the Guide for the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide). The Guide was prepared to assist researchers in maintaining high- quality care for all commonly used laboratory animals. It includes the Government principles for animal care and use adopted by all agencies and institutions that conduct federally supported animal research. This Guide also applies under another Federal law, the Good Laboratory Practices Act. Research laboratories that conduct studies using rats and mice are regulated by the PHS's Food and Drug Administration and are subject to inspections. In addition, most institutions that do not receive PHS funding follow the Guide. For example, laboratory animal breeders, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and commercial research laboratories that may not be subject to USDA and PHS regulations may voluntarily participate in a national program of certification by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. This private organization monitors institutional animal care programs to ensure that they maintain the standards set forth in the Guide. Animal use is an integral component of biomedical and behavioral research and testing. The vast majority of scientists recognize that good science and good animal care go hand in hand and would not tolerate or condone cruelty to, or inhumane treatment of, any laboratory animal.
Go to:
Top of Document

The Animal Welfare Information Center
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Ave.
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351

Phone: (301) 504-6212
FAX: (301) 504-5181
Contact us:

Policies and Links

USDA logo ARS logo NAL logo
Updated June 18, 2013
This page's URL is