Danielle Chase

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Fall 2014


tereotypic behavior, or stereotypies, is characterized as repetitive, invariant behavior patterns, with no obvious goal or function and are commonly observed among captive animals and may indicate poor welfare. Activity budget and stereotypic behavior was assessed in two, rescued, male juvenile California sea lions transported from California to Key Largo, Florida for permanent managed care after being deemed non-releasable. The activity budgets consisted of three broad behavioral states including stereotypic behavior, activity, and inactivity, which was correlated with water temperature, and both males exhibited similar trends. Five forms of stereotypic behavior were observed during the study period, and the sea lions did not exhibit all of the same stereotypic behaviors, indicating individual variation in the expression of stereotypies. Pattern swimming was the most common stereotypic behavior, but one of the males also exhibited pacing and rocking, which has not been documented in sea lions to date. Overall, stereotypic behavior was the most common behavior observed over random activity and resting. Presence of cohorts, enclosure type, and time of day significantly influenced the mean proportion of time spent in stereotypic behavior. The frequency of stereotypic behavior was higher when animals were housed in the pool, as well as when housed alone. Additionally, enclosure complexity influenced the occurrence of stereotypic behavior, highlighting the importance of enclosure design and enrichment. The results of this study can be used to improve the management and welfare of captive California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) by providing insight into the expression of and influences on stereotypies and allowing for the strategic development of management plans targeted at reducing stereotypic behaviors.


Department: MBF

MPS Track: MMS

Location: Dolphins Plus (Key Largo, FL)

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