Personality, Comfort and Subjective Well-being in captive killer whales

So far, animal personality (character) studies have been conducted on 64 different animals. Although they have been investigated from mollusks or arthropods, to amphibians, reptiles, birds to fish, most of the studies have been carried out in mammals. The results of these investigations indicate that interindividual differences guarantee adaptive and biological efficacy advantages to these species. The first systematic study on the personality of cetaceans was done in bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). However, no study has yet been conducted on possible personality differences in killer whales (Orcinus orca).

Orcinus orca
Conservation Status: Category DD (Data Deficient) according to the IUCN Red List, although some local populations are considered threatened.
Wild population: 50,000, stable.
Captive population: 50

The objective of this research is to evaluate the personality, well-being and subjective well-being of a group of orcas in captivity. The evaluations will be made based on a qualitative analysis, through the use of questionnaires. The purpose of this approach is to obtain indices that can be related to other indicators of well-being, in such a way that the well-being of species in captivity is improved.

Personality studies can have a broad impact on cetacean species, aiding in conservation and management efforts for animals in captivity, and improving their comfort and well-being. Few studies have addressed these issues in different animals, so the results in aspects such as conservation, management, health and animal welfare are promising.

The present study begins with the personality evaluation of the killer whales housed in Loro Parque (n = 6). The data is currently being analyzed, and the study will continue to analyze the subjective well-being and comfort profiles of these killer whales. However, it will be extended to other aquariums and zoos to obtain a larger sample and increase the validity and reliability of the data. The evaluation of the subjective parameters will be done through questionnaires, which will be filled out by evaluators who have known orcas for at least 6 months and who are within one of these profiles: researchers, caretakers or audiovisual personnel.
Evaluators will be instructed to base their opinions on their general impressions of the killer whales and not on frequency estimates of past behavior. They will also be warned to prevent them from discussing their ratings with each other.


Local Contributor:
Mona Foundation

Funding since 2016: 21.200$
Orcinus orca

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