A look at how environmental enrichment affects captive Killer whale skeletons by mimicking natural behaviours.

Working in a museum, you may find it surprising that Dr Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrate Biology, has anything to do with living animals, let alone Killer whales in captivity. However, National Museums Scotland receive many animals from zoos and this has stimulated new research into the kinds of diseases affecting their skeletons, and how nutrition and activity levels affect their skeleton development. Dr Kitchener is particularly interested in seeing how environmental enrichment affects skeletons by mimicking natural behaviours. So, with Graham Law from the University of Glasgow, he helped to develop new ideas, published recently in the International Zoo Yearbook, to see if they could improve the welfare of Killer whales in captivity.

Above: Skeleton of a wild Killer whale stranded in the Western Isles, Scotland, and now in the collections of the National Museums Scotland.

Above: Skeleton of a wild Killer whale stranded in the Western Isles and now in the collections of the National Museums Scotland.

Above: The use of satellite technology to link Killer whales at zoological institutions with those living at other institutions and others in the wild. 

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