The Basics of Animal Behaviour

A short e-Book introducing some of the fundementals of animal behaviour and its research.

3. Stress Behaviours

Just because scientists avoid anthropomorphism does not mean that they do not care how an animal may be feeling. Improving animal welfare is a top priority in zoos around the world. Research is often looking to identify behaviours that may indicate that the animal is stressed. These might include:


·      Altered Levels of Activity (e.g. when activity levels are higher than expected [hysteria] or lower than expected [apathy]).

·      Breeding Difficulties (e.g. animals struggling to reproduce for no obvious reason, either due to failure to conceive or failure to successfully raise offspring).

·      Misdirected Behaviour (e.g. the abnormal use of an otherwise normal behaviour (e.g. hyper-aggression in rescued bears or pet birds over-plucking their feathers to the extent they can become bald and impair flight).

·      Stereotypic Behaviours (e.g. repetitive movements such as pacing).


These stress behaviours indicating potential poor welfare of animals can be identified in research projects. The behaviours can be reduced by improving animal welfare by providing the animal privacy, increased space or improved enrichment.

Amur tiger | RZSS Blog