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Animal emotions: What do vocalisations tell us?

Sentience Topic: Emotions Guest: Dr Alan McElligott and Dr Elodie Briefer  Date: 17 Aug 2015  
Global Issue: Agriculture, Biomedical research, Veterinarian

Join us on the 17th August 2015 at 14:00 (BST) 09:00 (EDT)

It is accepted that animal’s emotional states are linked to their welfare, and that animals require the opportunity to have positive experiences. To be able to provide a good life for animals under human care, it is essential to be able to understand and assess what they are experiencing. However, techniques for measuring the emotional states of animals are still lacking, particularly in relation to positive emotions.

Many species use complex vocalisations in a variety of ways, such as during social interactions. In light of this, we want to ask whether vocalisations can be used to assess if an animal is feeling frustrated, excited or relaxed? Dr Elodie Briefer and Dr Alan McElligott have conducted research exploring measures of emotions. For example, they found that goats spend more time with their tails up during positive experiences compared with negative ones. Alan and Elodie, will discuss what they know about animal vocalisations, and whether they believe that vocalisations can be used as a reliable measure of emotions and be used to assess animal welfare.

Dr Alan McElligott, Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour, Queen Mary, University of London, and Dr Elodie Briefer, Postdoctoral research fellow, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Zürich, will share their expertise and opinions on this fascinating topic.

Once the discussion starts please post your questions/comments below for Alan and Elodie to answer. Alternatively send your questions to sentience@worldanimalprotection.org in advance. Our panellists will answer your questions live on the web!

Did you know?

Play behaviour has been observed in many species of crocodilians. Dinets, V. (2015). Animal Behavior and Cognition.