Why do we study animal behaviour?

Site: Discovery and Learning
Course: Animal Behaviour Hub
Book: Why do we study animal behaviour?
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Thursday, 13 May 2021, 11:16 PM


Find out more about why we study animal behaviour here.


Why do we study animal behaviour I hear you ask? Here at RZSS, research is one of our four key objectives and it gives us the latest knowledge to improve our practice. We study animal behaviour in the wild and in captivity and apply that knowledge so that we can give our animals better care, monitor their health, and support their breeding to help conserve species.


For example, behaviour studies of penguins help us to understand that northern rockhoppers need a slope to fight over when breeding whereas gentoos are a little more polite. They need pebbles handy to offer their partners and space to bow-hiss to impress. Putting this knowledge into practice enables keepers to help the species breed successfully in captivity.

Challenge 1

Now you know why we study animal behaviour so who’s up for challenge one? Let’s go!

Count how many adult pairs of gentoo penguins you see ‘bow-hiss’ to each other in a 30 second period using our penguin cam. Repeat this two more times and then find the average like this:

Finding an Average

Step 1: Add up total number of times you saw penguins bow-hiss accross the 3 observations

e.g.  17 + 12 + 8 = 37

Step 2: Take your total and divide it by the number of times you observed the penguins (in this case 3 times)

e.g. 37 ÷ 3 = 12.333

We wont judge if you want to use a caculator! Just don’t forget to share your results with us at RZSS Learning via social media or email quoting "Behaviour Hub Level 1"!


Follow Up

How do I make this into a bigger study?

The 'bow-hiss' is a courtship behaviour. You might expect to see it more often during the breeding season (February-May).

Suggested longer term study: Why not repreat this observation every week for the next 20 weeks and see whether we get less bow-hissing or more bow hissing over this time? An example graph is shown below. Can you make your own version of the graph?

Do you notice if we get more or less bow-hissing during the breeding season?

Good luck, and have fun!