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Animal fun: What do we know?

Sentience Topic: Behaviour, Emotions, Joy Guest: Marc Bekoff and Gordon Burghardt  Date: 18 May 2015  
Global Issue: Agriculture, Conservation, Veterinarian

Join us on the 18th May 2015 at 15:00 (BST) 10:00 (EDT)

The science of animal fun is increasingly being studied and observed across the animal kingdom, play is a common behaviour which can be considered to be an indicator of pleasure and fun. For example, rats have been observed to seek out tickling by humans, fish have been witnessed playing with objects and crocodiles have been seen playing with flowers and balls. Such play behaviour is an important part of development and can help young animals learn valuable life skills, but do animals also play just for fun?

If animals do play for fun, how important is this to them? It is becoming increasingly apparent that good animal welfare requires the promotion of positive emotional states, in light of this does more need to be done to promote fun in captive animals? And where do we draw the line in terms of which species can experience fun? During the discussion our panellists will discuss these questions, covering what is currently known about animal fun and play.

Professor Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado, and Professor Gordon Burghardt, University of Tennessee, will share their expertise and knowledge on this interesting topic.

Once the discussion starts please post your questions/comments below for Marc and Gordon 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.