Dolphin Quest: Behavior

Behavioral and health problems can develop as a result of inadequate living conditions in captive animals. Zoochosis is a common name for these stereotypic behaviors in animals. These are "repetitive behaviors which appear to have no obvious goal or function - such as repetitive pacing, swaying, head-bobbing or circling and bar-biting ‘demonstrably caused by the frustration of natural behavior patterns, impaired brain function, or repeated attempts to deal with some problem’ (Mason, 2005 via

"Failure to provide ample space for normal behavior variability and expression, for example, may lead to stereotypic behavior. This activity may be progressive and could lead to functional alterations of behavior that may have very definite health consequences. These include problems of aggression/submission, aberrant sexual activity, reproductive failure, nervousness, self-inflicted trauma, and pathological behavior (e.g., vomiting and foreign body consumption.) (Gaskin, 1982; Amundin, 1986; Dierauf, 1990; SWEENEY, 1990) And yes, we're referring to Dolphin Quest co-founder JAY SWEENEY.

“Aggression appears most commonly in the form of intimidation, with inflictions of rake-bite lacerations to the secondary animals… It was unusual for adult males to spend much interactive time within the social group. The situation in captivity, however, creates one basic alteration to this normal structure: adult males interact permanently with the social group. Frequently, this interaction results in the establishment of a dominant male individual. It is evident from many observed interactions in captivity that this male dominance, when present, is often the source of many social and behavioral problems, especially related to juveniles within the group.” (Sweeney, 1990)

“Husbandry problems of marine mammals in captivity often come directly from exhibiting animals in enclosed environments.” (Sweeney, 1990)


Thank you Beneath The Blue and Empty the Tanks, Hawaii for some of this footage.