Zoochosis, also known as repetitive abnormal behavior in animals (ARB for acronym in English), is one of the consequences of using the latter for human entertainment. It is a pattern of behavior that has been observed in captive animals, especially large mammals.
In this article, we will see what zoochosis is and what are some of its main causes and consequences.
What is Zoochosis
Different species of animals are often used for human entertainment and recreation. Environments such as zoos or circuses they represent only some of the most common and at the same time the most negative activities for animals themselves and their ecosystems.
Visual and written recordings of animals in captivity have shown that sooner or later those who live in captivity face frustration and a range of unusual behaviors in their natural environment. Although this is an increasingly widespread phenomenon, it seems to cause such a surprise that it was necessary to move a term of human psychopathology to highlight the negative causes of captivity in animals.
This term is “zoochosis,” which has been described as a phenomenon apparently derived from, or analogous to, psychosis. Ultimately, the above means zoochosis in a type of mental disorder that animals develop in captivity.
However, the above has not been scientifically systematized, because experiences of psychosis have a subjective component important for its description (not just observable); which makes it difficult to move directly to animal behaviors.
Regardless, the term zoochosis has been useful in studying and making visible the negative consequences of living in captivity on different animals. It is currently part of the colloquial language where psychology converges with ethology and animal rights activism.
Stereotypical behavior in animals
For its part, repetitive abnormal behavior, or rather stereotypical behavior, has been associated in humans and animals with restrictive environments (Lewis, 2007). This is why zoochosis has also been described as a form of stereotypical behavior of animals living in captivity and that it reflects the serious obstacles that these environments pose to their development.
Stereotypical behaviors, as well as other manifestations of behavior, have been observed particularly in elephants, bears, gorillas, tigers, giraffes and killer whales in captivity.
Main causes and behavioral manifestations
As we have seen, zoochosis or stereotypical behaviors in animals are attributed to life in captivity. Specifically, some of the elements that have been proposed as a causation of zoochosis are the lack of space, which in turn it causes a lack of privacy, physical exercise and mental stimulation.
The final consequence of the above is usually self-harm and other self-destructive behaviors (Adamiec, 2014). Likewise, walks or walks have been observed which follow the same route without apparent functionality; rotating and repetitive movements of the neck; immediate and repeated vomiting after eating; bands against the wall; excessively violent behavior, both in other animals and in humans (Stephen, 1993).
After having analyzed the specific case of elephants in different American zoos, Dick (2016) tells us that limited space creates different and serious obstacles for elephants to develop naturally and actively. For example, in their natural environment, elephants can travel up to 50 miles in a single day, which they cannot accomplish in captivity.
Containment and prevention strategies
Continuing the case of elephants, Dick (2016) analyzes how some zoos contain animal behavior. Under the argument that elephants “behave badly”, some of them use hooks, whips or wood. In addition, some entertainment offerings for the visitor include car washes performed by elephant horns, spraying water with their horns on shows and horse rides (p. 3-4). The same author analyzes the difficulties in feeding them and facilitating their reproduction, as well as strategies to capture them in the wild.
Other strategies used in zoos to control the behavior of animals in captivity are the use of drugs, particularly anxiolytics and antidepressants, although conditioning techniques are also used (Elisha, 2017).
Finally, there are different and growing groups that have spoken out against life in captivity, for example through laws focused on animal rights, and by assessing or denouncing living conditions in different countries. zoos. In some cases, he advocates improving these conditions, and in others the return of animals to their natural environment. The creation of educational strategies that make it visible was also encouraged. the negative consequences of using animals for entertainment, And therefore, their presence in circuses of several countries was prohibited.
- Élisée, B. (2017). What is Zoochosis World Atlas. Accessed August 9, 2018.Available at https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-zoochosis.html.
- Dick, R. (2016). The use of elephants in recreation and its negative effects. Illuminare: A student magazine for recreation, park and recreation studies. 14 (1): 1-9.
- Adamiec, A. (2014). Support biodiversity. APES. Accessed August 9, 2018.Available at http://harborside.kusd.edu/projects/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/anna-adamiec-.pdf.
- Lewis, M., Tanimura, Y. and Lee, L. (2013). Animal patterns of restricted repetitive behavior in autism. Brain behavior Nothing. 176 (1): 66-74. doi: 10.1016 / j.bbr.2006.08.023.
- Stephen, S. (1993). Join the fight to eradicate zoochosis. Column A The Sun, Baltimore, Md. Accessed August 9, 2018. Available at https://search.proquest.com/docview/406825295?accountid=15292.