Heintz, M. R., Fuller, G. A., Woodhouse, S. J., Murray, A., & Allard, S. M. (2018). Case Studies of the Impacts of Cataract Surgery on Crested Penguin Welfare. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1-13.
As nonhuman animals age, geriatric individuals require additional care and veterinary support to ensure their well being. The focus on lifelong care is a relatively newer approach when providing good welfare, and few studies have examined how veterinary care impacts behavior at different ages or how best to accommodate geriatric individuals in zoos. The objectives of this study were to (a) assess both the immediate and long-term (one year later) behavioral impacts of cataract removal for macaroni (Eudyptes chrysolophus) and southern rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome) penguins; (b) compare the behavior of penguins following cataract surgery to that of other conspecifics in the same habitat; and (c) monitor the impacts of cataract surgery on swimming behavior using time-depth recorders. Individual responses to cataract removal differed in direction and magnitude, and these mixed results highlight that welfare is experienced and thus measured at the individual level. Positive responses included increased habitat use, increased time spent swimming, and increased rates of affiliative interactions. This study highlights the importance of assessing welfare impacts of veterinary interventions on geriatric individuals.
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