What is zoochose 1

Zoochose: what it is and how it appears in captive animals

Zoochosis, also known as repetitive abnormal behavior in animals (ARB for English) is one of the consequences of using the latter for human entertainment. It is a behavior pattern that has been observed in captive animals, especially large mammals.

In this article we will see what zoochosis is and what are the main causes and consequences.

  • Related article: "Comparative Psychology: The Animal Part of Psychology"

What is zoochosis?

Various species of animals are widely used for entertainment and recreation for people. Environments like zoos or circuses They represent just some of the most common and at the same time most negative activities for animals themselves and their ecosystems.

Both visual and written records of animals in captivity have shown that sooner or later those living in captivity will deal with frustration and a range of behaviors that are unusual in their natural environment. While it is an increasingly common phenomenon, this phenomenon seems to come as such a surprise It was necessary to translate a term from human psychopathology Emphasize the negative causes of captivity in animals.

This term is the term "zoochosis" which has been described as a phenomenon that is obviously derived from or is analogous to psychosis. Ultimately, this means that zoochosis occurs in a type of mental disorder that animals develop in captivity.

However, the above has not been systematized scientifically because The experiences of psychosis have a subjective component important for its description (not only observable); This makes it difficult to apply them directly to animal behavior.

In any event, the term zoochosis was useful in studying the negative consequences that life in captivity has on various animals. Nowadays it is part of the colloquial language in which psychology deals with ethology and with the the activism for animal rights .

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Stereotypical behavior in animals

On the other hand, repeated abnormal behavior (stereotype behavior) in humans and animals has been linked to restrictive environments (Lewis, 2007). That is why the zoochosis has also been described as a type of Stereotypical behavior of animals living in captivity and that explains the serious barriers these environments pose to their development.

Stereotypical behaviors and other behavioral manifestations have been observed in captivity in particular in elephants, bears, gorillas, tigers, giraffes and killer whales.

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Main causes and behavioral manifestations

As we have seen, zoochosis, or the stereotypical behavior of animals, is attributed to life in captivity. More specifically, some of the elements that have been suggested as causes of zoochosis are the lack of space, which in turn may be causes a lack of privacy, physical activity, and mental stimulation .

The final consequence of the above is usually self-mutilation and other self-destructive behaviors (Adamiec, 2014). There were also hikes or walks on the same route with no apparent functionality. twisting and repetitive neck movements; immediate and repeated vomiting after eating; Head blows against the wall; excessively violent behavior towards both other animals and humans (Stephen, 1993).

After the analysis the specific case of elephants in various American zoos Dick (2016) tells us that the limited space poses different and serious barriers to elephant development. In their natural habitat, for example, elephants can travel up to 50 miles in a day, which they cannot do in captivity.

Containment and Prevention Strategies

In the context of elephants, Dick (2016) analyzes how some zoos contain animal behavior. Some of them use hooks, whips, or wood, arguing that elephants are "misbehaving". The entertainment offers for the visitor also include the production of car washes from the pipes of the elephants, the spraying of water with their trunks into the cars and the setting up of rides (p. 3-4). The same author analyzes the difficulties of feeding them and facilitating their reproduction. as well as the strategies for capturing them in the wild .

Other strategies used in zoos to control the behavior of captive animals are the use of medication, particularly anxiolytics and antidepressants, although conditioning techniques are also used (Elisha, 2017).

Finally, there are various and growing groups that have spoken out against life in captivity, for example through laws that focus on animal rights and by evaluating or denouncing the living conditions of various zoos. In some cases the improvement of these conditions is advocated and in other cases the return of the animals to their natural environment is advocated. Likewise, the creation of educational strategies that enable us to see the negative consequences of using animals for entertainment As a result, their presence in circuses was banned in several countries.


  • Elisha, B. (2017). What is zoochosis? World Atlas Retrieved August 9, 2018. Available at //www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-is-zoochosis.html.
  • Dick, R. (2016). The recreational use of elephants and its negative effects. Illuminare: a student magazine dedicated to recreation, parks, and leisure. 14 (1): 1-9.
  • Adamiec, A. (2014). Preserve biodiversity. APES. Retrieved August 9, 2018. Available at //harborside.kusd.edu/projects/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/anna-adamiec-.pdf.
  • Lewis, M., Tanimura, Y. and Lee, L. (2013). Animal models of limited repetitive behavior in autism. Behav Brain Res. 176 (1): 66-74. Doi: 10.1016 / j.bbr.2006.08.023.
  • Stephen, S. (1993). Join the fight to stamp out the zoochose. Column in the Sun, Baltimore, MD. Retrieved August 9, 2018. Available at //search.proquest.com/docview/406825295?accountid=15292.

Dominion 2018 - German Deutsch subbed - Full Documentary HD (May 2021).