Scientists attempt to measure dolphin ‘happiness’ for the first time

'Better human-animal bonds equals better welfare'

Monday 28 May 2018 14:35 BST
Two Dolphins in a blue water
Two Dolphins in a blue water (Getty)

A team of scientists have attempted to measure “happiness” in dolphins for the first time.

Researchers in France assessed captivity from the perspective of the marine mammal and found that they were most happy when interacting with a human they had built a bond with.

The study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, is part of a three-year project measure the welfare of dolphins.

Lead researcher Dr Isabella Clegg designed a number of experiments that looked at the posture of dolphins to determine what they were feeling.

She tested dolphins when they were in sessions with a trainer, had toys in their pool and when they were left alone.

“We wanted to find out what activities in captivity they like most,” she told the BBC. ”We found a really interesting result – all dolphins look forward most to interacting with a familiar human.”

When the dolphins saw a trainer they were familiar with they would spend more time at the edge of the pool and peer above the surface.

“We’ve seen this same thing in other zoo animals and in farm animals,” Dr Clegg added. ”Better human-animal bonds equals better welfare.”

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