'Normal' Behaviour of the Legal Animal Is More than Just 'What They Do in the Wild'

12 Pages Posted: 7 May 2012

See all articles by Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson

International Animal Law; Sentient Animal Law Foundation

Lindsay Matthews

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 3, 2012


A hallmark of modern animal welfare legislation is the incorporation of positive duties of care based on principles broadly known as the ‘five freedoms’. The duties create a legal obligation on animal caregivers to provide for the needs of animals in their care, one of which is the "opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour". The freedoms, including the opportunity to exhibit "normal" behaviour, are all premised on the inclusion of human involvement in animal care. Consequently it would be inconsistent for the judiciary to define “normal”, in a manner that excludes the human caregiver or interpret “normal” behaviour of domesticated animals solely by reference to the animals “wild” counterparts. Contemporary reality clearly indicates that the legislative definition of “normal” behaviour for the purposes of animal welfare law must be based on legal and scientific constructs that give significant weight and consideration to the animal’s ability to adapt, and to the individual animal’s past and present environment which includes the presence and role of the human caregiver.

Keywords: animal welfare, law, normal behaviour, adaptation, human caregiver

JEL Classification: K14, O13

Suggested Citation

Robertson, Ian and Matthews, Lindsay, 'Normal' Behaviour of the Legal Animal Is More than Just 'What They Do in the Wild' (May 3, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050409 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2050409

Ian Robertson (Contact Author)

International Animal Law ( email )

P O Box 106231
Auckland, 1010
New Zealand

Sentient Animal Law Foundation ( email )

PO Box 234
Auckland, New Zealand, 1010
1010 (Fax)

Lindsay Matthews

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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