Friday, 23 November 2012

Captive Animals Show Signs of Boredom, Study Finds


ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2012) — Wondering if your caged hamster gets bored? It's highly likely if the critter has nothing to do all day.

Those are the findings of University of Guelph researchers in the first research study to empirically demonstrate boredom in confined animals. The study appears today in PLOS ONE, published by the Public Library of Science.

The study's authors hope the results encourage the development of better housing systems for captive animals.

"Ideas about how to assess animal boredom scientifically have been raised before, but this is really the first time that anyone's done it," said Rebecca Meagher, a U of G postdoctoral researcher and the study's lead author.

It's well-established that living in unchanging, inescapable environments induces boredom in humans, including prisoners who report that they are highly motivated to seek stimulation.
"But we cannot rely on verbal self-reports from non-humans, so motivation to obtain general stimulation must form the basis of any objective measure of boredom in animals," said Prof. Georgia Mason, who holds the Canada Research Chair in animal welfare in Guelph's Department of Animal and Poultry Science.

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